Karleen C. Chinen

In a few weeks, Hawai‘i will bid aloha to Consul General of Japan Yasushi Misawa and his wife Yoko as they end their two and one-half-year posting in the Islands. From warm and sunny Hawai‘i, Misawa-san will head to Berlin to assume the title of deputy chief of mission with the Embassy of Japan in Germany. Mrs. Misawa will return to their home in Kyöto to pack their winter clothes and then join her husband in Berlin. Germany will be a homecoming of sorts for the Misawas, who were posted there twice before.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that the Misawas will be greatly missed. Hawai‘i doesn’t get to pick its consul general. That’s the job of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Some previous consuls general engaged more with the golf ball than the AJA community; others interacted mainly with the state’s upper crust. But Hawai‘i struck gold with the Mi-
sawas — actually, with their predecessors, as well. Toyoei and Michiko Shigeeda opened their hearts to Hawai‘i. I still receive emails from the Shigeedas from their current post with the Embassy of Japan in Lithuania.

The Misawas were a different couple. Both were born and raised in Japan’s culture-rich prefecture of Kyöto, so they often arrived at community functions wearing the traditional dress of their home country. I think it was part of their desire to share their culture with us in Hawai‘i.

Two years gave us time to get to know them, and for them to get to know us, the first large community of Nikkei with whom they would interact. They were quick studies.

Misawa-san quickly developed a rapport with Hawai‘i’s Nisei veterans and a genuine respect for their service to America in World War II — even though his country and our country were bitter enemies at the time. Earlier this year, he was asked to speak at the Military Intelligence Service veterans’ shinnenkai.

From where I was seated, almost across from Mi-sawa-san, I quietly observed his interactions with the veterans. He was truly enjoying talking story with them, and he happily joined them in the lunch buffet line.

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