Two Japanese American community leaders were recognized at Los Angeles City Hall on April 27. City Councilmember Jan Perry honored Bill Watanabe, who is stepping down as executive director of the Little Tokyo Service Center after 33 years on the job. Known for his contributions to social services, affordable housing, historical preservation and business development in Little Tokyo, he was surrounded by his colleagues, including his successor, Dean Matsubayashi (pictured between Perry and Watanabe). Watanabe will receive the Japanese government’s Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, and has also been selected by KCET as a “Local Hero” for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. A retirement celebration will be held May 19 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel. (Photo by J.K. Yamamoto/Rafu Shimpo)
City Councilmember Richard Alarcon presented a commendation to Rose Ochi for her work as a lawyer at the Western Center for Law and Poverty and her public service with the City of Los Angeles, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Los Angeles Police Commission Board and, most recently, as the founding director of the Los Angeles Regional Crime Laboratory. Her entourage included her husband, Thomas (left), and Alternate Public Defender Janice Fukai (right). Interned as a child at the Rohwer camp in Arkansas, Ochi was instrumental in establishing Manzanar as a National Historic Site and in securing the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided compensation and an apology to former internees. On April 28, she received the “Baka Guts” award during the Manzanar Pilgrimage. (Photo by J.K. Yamamoto/Rafu Shimpo)