Yoshino Honored by
The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette
Award Recognizes JAs’ Value and Roles
• William Yoshino was honored by the Emperor’s award, the Order of the
Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, and an award ceremony was held on
October 18 at the official residence of Consul General of Japan in Chicago.
• Consul General Naoki Ito commended Yoshino for his long time devotions
to protect human rights. He was Director of the Japanese American Citizens
League (JACL) Midwest for almost 40 years and retired from his position
• Consul General Ito said that Yoshino, as a leader of the Japanese American
(JA) community, has dedicated himself to educating the public about the
JA history and succeeded in facilitating trainings, conferences, and workshops
to equip educators to teach especially young generations about JA incarceration
• In the recent years, Yoshino has also taken important
rules in connecting Japanese nationals and the JA communities in local
areas through his participation in the Chicago JA Council, Japan Festival,
JA Picnic and Day of Remembrance. Especially, at the Day of Remembrance,
he has created solidarity by involving people from the wider Chicago community
through telling the story of JA incarceration and collaborating on protecting
civil rights of all.
• Yoshino has worked to improve situations for those
who experienced discrimination, and that made things better for Japanese
nationals who came to the Chicago area. His efforts have fostered more
opportunities for friendship at a grass root level and brought Japan and
the U.S. closer together.
• Consul General Ito said, “I hope that this (Emperor’s
Award) shows the importance of not only Mr. Yoshino’s achievements but
also on the works so many of you do to encourage and protect the place
of JAs in the U.S. and to make Japan-US friendship even stronger,”
• Yoshino said that he was really fortunate to spend
his career telling JA stories and spreading them as far as he could and
proud of being connected with the JACL.
• He also said that he had learned the importance of support from his
friends and family when he had tried to accomplish his work. He expressed
his gratitude to his family and friends who attended the ceremony.
• Yoshino’s relationship with Japan goes back to late
1980s. Regarding JA incarceration, the U.S. Government acknowledged its
misconduct and apologized to JAs. President Ronald Regan signed the Civil
Liberties Act in 1988, and Yoshino attended the signing ceremony.
• After the bill was signed, the JA community worked hard to make sure
that a registration was created, so that redress was appropriated in the
Congress. For this reason, Yoshino often traveled to the West Coast and
became a close friend of Cressey Nakagawa, President of National JACL
from 1988 to 1992.
• Nakagawa introduced him to then Consul General Shunji Yanai in San Francisco,
who became Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. later years. From there, Yoshino
was involved in the matter of the Japan-U.S. relationship.
• Yoshino’s father, Maurice Takeo Yoshino left Chigasaki,
Kanagawa Prefecture when he was a teenager and boarded a ship to Seattle
on June 23, 1924. Curiously, it was a week before the Immigration Act
of 1924 went into effect, which banned Japanese immigration. The ship
Maurice boarded was the last ship, which carried Japanese immigrants.
• His father experienced the Great Depression and then incurred JA incarceration.
He became a U.S. citizen later, but Yoshino said that he never lost his
Japanese sensibility. He had deep knowledge of the Japanese history and
loved the culture and arts of Japan. He also kept human dignity. Yoshino
thinks that his father probably acquired such personality from his grandfather,
who was an official guard for the Meiji Emperor.
• Yoshino said, “With this background, I dedicate this conferment in memory
of my father.”
• Cressey Nakagawa, who flew from the West Coast to attend
the ceremony, spoke about Yoshino and his experiences with the Japan-U.S.
relationship. Although JAs are of Japanese ancestry, they are Americans,
not extensions of Japan. This fact is often misunderstood by Japanese
• After President Regan signed the Civil Liberty Act
in 1988, the JA community, especially on the West Coast, was actively
lobbying to pass a registration to secure redress appropriation and needed
• On the other hand, a trade conflict between Japan and the U.S. was getting
worse and worse, and Japan bashing was happening. Nakagawa’s concern was
growing in his mind that an aggravated US-Japan relationship would bring
negative effects in various way to the JA community.
• Nakagawa said, “We never had a good relationship with those people who
represented Japanese corporations or Japanese political world. We did
it because our parents wanted to be away from them, after all. They had
caused creation of camps that we went to.”
• Nakagawa said to the attendees, “Think about that for
a moment,” and continued to speak.
• He said that without funding redress, the purpose of the Civil Liberty
Act would be lost. To do so, the community solidarity and fundraising
• Then Consul General Yanai in San Francisco talked to Nakagawa about
JAs’ involvement in the Japan-U.S. relationship during such an important
time. Nakagawa and Yoshino discussed it numerous times during the period
from 1988 to 1990 to avoid problems. There were many negative things that
occurred in private conversations in bars and hotels across the country,
and the two acted to let Japanese people know that there were problems.
• Through Yanai, Nakagawa was invited to Atlanta to speak
about the U.S.-Japan relations and what JAs had to do with it. There were
questions such as why JAs were more involved in that. Nakagawa said that
the answers were written later years in the Pacific Citizens, the National
Newspaper of the JACL.
• Nakagawa said, “Tonight, let me say to Consul General
Ito,” and talked about his thoughts.
• He said that while Yoshiko deserved to receive the Emperor’s award,
he wanted others to know that none of works could have come about unless
the issue was put to political bodies, and there was an issue that needed
to be seriously addressed. “You had to recognize that Americans of Japanese
ancestry couldn’t come forward at times, and wouldn’t at times. Tell the
Japanese Government and its representatives what problems they might be
causing,” Nakagawa said.
• “This document and the medal shows us that we’ve come a long, long way
to a point where you recognized and Japan has recognized the value of
JAs and the role we played to create a better America. And in the process,
you also created a better Japan,” he continued.
• Lastly he said that he wanted people in his community to keep watching
where Japan was going amid a movement to a situation that was ever closer
to the late 1930s. “Let me tell you that we are there because of Bill