Life-long Japanese and Okinawan culture advocator Mr. Chogi Higa of Gardena was selected as one of the recipients of the 2015 Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendations in August.
The conferment ceremony honoring Mr. Higa was held in the afternoon of Sept. 25 at the official residence of the consul general of Japan in Los Angeles. 40 leaders of the Japanese American community in Los Angeles attended the ceremony.
The Foreign Minister’s Commendations are awarded to individuals and groups of outstanding achievements in international fields, to acknowledge their contribution to the promotion of friendship between Japan and other countries.
Okinawa-born Mr. Higa, 75-year-old, is known as the pillar of the Okinawa Kenjinkai or the Okinawa Association of America for long time. He has been the driving force of cultural programs in the OAA, and served as the president of the OAA for two times, currently the advisor to the OAA.
Beginning in 1975, Mr. Higa has served a total of 15 years for the Los Angeles based Rafu Uwamachi Daini Gakuen Japanese language school. Beginning as a volunteer, Mr. Higa eventually served as vice chairman for 4 years and chairman for 3 years at Rafu Uwamachi Daini Gakuen. He contributed not only to the day-to-day operations of the school but to the nurturing of Japanese American youths through the education and dissemination of the Japanese language and culture.
In addition, Mr. Higa volunteered as a producer and host for 2 Japanese radio stations in Los Angeles for a total of 11 years, contributing greatly to the operation and management of the Japanese language based radio station, which was vital to language preservation for Japanese Americans. During his programs, Mr. Higa introduced much of the Okinawan dialect and culture, passing the tradition on to the younger generation.
The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami occurred during Mr. Higa’s presidency of the Japanese Prefectural Association of Southern California and Mr. Higa led the efforts to collectivize the Japanese American community and raise donations for the disaster relief efforts.