As this past year and a half has brought so many challenges and obstacles, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i would like to honor and recognize those who’ve helped Hawai‘i’s communities with the first annual RISE event on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

The virtual event will recognize Every1ne Hawai‘i, Kamehameha Schools, Y. Hata & Co., Limited, and Mayor Derek Kawakami. From promoting civic engagement to organizing mass food drives throughout the state, these honorees were specifically chosen for embodying kachikan values of responsibility, integrity, strength and empowerment.

Every1ne Hawai’i members pack up face masks during a distribution drive event on the North Shore, in partnership with the North Shore Lifeguard Association and Hands In Helping Out.

Keoni Williams, a founder for Every1ne Hawai‘i, is honored to be recognized by JCCH’s RISE event and hopes efforts from his non-profit organization will help inspire the next generation. 

“Every1ne Hawai‘i was founded to support civic engagement and empower Hawai‘i’s youth and young adults,” said Williams. “This effort transformed into a statewide free face mask distribution campaign and later manifested as get out the vote efforts during the 2020 elections. As a young non-profit focused on the next generation, we consider it an honor and privilege to be recognized by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i.” 

RISE will feature in-home dining delivery, coupled with an online virtual program. Chef Paul Matsumoto from the Pili Group, Chef Wade of MW Restaurant, and Chef Chai of Chef Chai at Pacifica Honolulu will be providing attendees with various gourmet dinner and dessert entrees such as miso short rib stew, braised beef shank with Panang curry sauce, shrimp salad with lemongrass garlic vinaigrette and chocolate truffles. Among the sponsors for the event include Island Insurance Companies, Central Pacific Bank Foundation, KTA Superstores, and Tenrikyo Mission of Hawaii.

Funds raised by RISE will support the JCCH’s mission in teaching the next generation of leaders the values found in Japanese American history and traditions. Nate Gyotoku, president and executive director for the JCCH, wants this event to highlight the immense impact that this year’s honorees have accomplished and is grateful to them for supporting Hawai‘i’s communities.

Every1ne Hawai’i founders and emerging influencers socially distance together following the arrival of a Hawaiian Airlines chartered flight that helped transport two million face masks from China.

“RISE is just one way to say mahalo to these incredible leaders who supported us and inspired us during difficult times,” said Gyotoku. “They have demonstrated the core kachikan values we believe in at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, which is why we are happy to honor them for their service.” 

RISE will be livestreamed to the public on the JCCH YouTube channel. A silent auction will also go live for public bidding the day of the event.

Sponsor registration for RISE is open until Sept. 8 at 11:59 p.m. For more information and to register, visit jcch.com/rise2021.


On Wednesday, Aug. 11 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, Judge Johnny Cepeda Gogo of the Santa Clara County Supreme Court invited World War II Nisei veterans, internment camp survivors and other heroes to sign his 48-star World War II-era flag. 

Judge Gogo’s goal is to donate the flag to the Japanese American Museum of San Jose on the next Fred Korematsu Day which is on Jan. 30, 2022.

Judge Johnny Gogo from San Jose helps Gov. George Ariyoshi and his wife Jean select a spot to sign on.

The late Fred Korematsu was a civil rights activist who objected to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The military orders that led to the incarceration of about 120,000 people of Japanese descent included Kormatsu and his family.

First on site to sign the flag was Gov. George Ariyoshi, a Military Intelligence Service veteran and his wife Jean, niece of Honouliuli internee Dan Nishikawa. Another signature added to the flag was Lawrence “Larry” Miwa, an atomic bomb survivor, or hibakusha. Miwa is known for his families five-generation migration story “Tadaima! I Am Home” (University of Hawai‘i Press, 2018) by Tom Coffman. 

Other heroes’ signatures collected included: Dr. Dennis Ogawa, Manzanar survivor; Shinye Gima, MIS veteran; Edward Ikuma, 100th Infantry Battalion veteran; Hanako Wakatsuki Chong, granddaughter of an internment camp survivor and superintendent of Honouliuli National Historic Site; Clifford Miyamoto, Crystal City survivor; Joy Teraoka, Heart Mountain Survivor; and Barbara Marumoto, internment camp survivor.

Decendants of internment camp survivors also signed the flag, including: Karen Murashige, Edna Saifuku, Sandi Chang, Laura Miho, Mariko Miho, Norman Osumi, Colleen Hanabusa, Helen Shinkawa, Paul Shinkawa, Henry Abe and Ethel Abe. 

Lawrence “Larry” Miwa, an atomic bomb survivor signs the World War II-era flag.

In a mahalo message, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono wrote, “As we remember and reflect on the experiences of those who were wrongfully incarcerated due to discrimination and racism, we also celebrate the brave and selfless service of the thousands of Japanese American soldiers who fought in World War II, putting their lives on the line to defend our freedoms overseas while also fighting against bigotry and discrimination at home. 

“This flag serves as a testament to the resilience of the Japanese American community and as a reminder of a dark period of our country’s history. When this flag eventually reaches its final destination in the Japanese American Museum in San Jose, I hope it will continue to teach visitors about our country’s past and inspire them to fight for change in the face of justice.”


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