From left: Terry Hara, JASSC gala co-chair; 2011-12 Disneyland Ambassador Jolie Hales; Mickey Mouse; and Tammie Kanda, JASSC gala co-chair. (PRNewsFoto/Japan America Society of Southern California)

ANAHEIM — The Japan America Society of Southern California (JASSC) presented its Kokusai Shimin Sho (International Citizens Award) to Disneyland Resort and Operation Tomodachi, the joint U.S. Forces and Japan Self-Defense Forces humanitarian relief effort, at the JASSC’s 103rd Anniversary Dinner and Gala Celebration at the Disneyland Hotel on June 15.

“The Japan America Society of Southern California’s annual celebration is not only a time to bring our members and guests together, but also to honor outstanding efforts to foster the spirit of friendship and cooperation between Japanese and Americans,” said Nancy Woo Hiromoto, chair of the JASSC. “Last year’s tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan brought out the best of both peoples, and we are proud to honor Disneyland Resort and Operation Tomodachi for their extraordinary contributions to the relief efforts.”

Speaking at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim on behalf of Operation Tomodachi, Adm. Patrick M. Walsh, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander (retired), said, “I am honored, I am grateful, and I am humbled for the privilege to stand here this evening and represent the men and women of our armed forces who participated in an important operation, under extraordinary conditions, at a remarkable time in history.”

Also receiving the award on behalf of the Japan Self-Defense Forces was Jun Niimi, consul general of Japan in Los Angeles.

Disneyland Resort was recognized for Tokyo Disney Resort’s immediate response after the March 11, 2011 earthquake, which initially stranded 69,000 people at Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. Disney employees provided humanitarian aid in the form of blankets, food and water, heaters and raincoats for visitors who were required to stay due to the transportation challenges associated with the earthquake.

“More than $630,000 was donated by our cast members and matched by the Walt Disney Company, and in addition our friends at KABC7 TV Los Angeles helped raise over $1 million in donations from our viewers,” said 2011-12 Disneyland Ambassador Jolie Hales.

The evening also included a silent auction that raised $33,000 for the JASSC and musical performances by six-time Grammy winner Daniel Ho and by acclaimed jazz and classical pianist-composer-arranger Yuko Maruyama.

The event capped a year in which the JASSC’s 2011 Japan Relief Fund raised more than $1.4 million to help victims in Japan.

The Japan America Society was founded in 1909 to build economic, cultural, governmental and personal relationships between the people of the two countries. It has grown to become the West Coast’s premier educational and public affairs forum dedicated to the U.S.-Japan relationship.

On July 26, JASSC will hold a luncheon event where keynote speaker Andrew Bird, chairman of Walt Disney International, will discuss Disney’s experience in capturing the international market. Visit the website for reservations and more details:

From left: Tammie Kanda, JASSC gala co-chair; Adm. Patrick Walsh, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander (retired); Jun Niimi, consul general of Japan in Los Angeles; and Terry Hara, JASSC gala co-chair. (PRNewsFoto/Japan America Society of Southern California)

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