Don’t know how many of you have followed the case of Sho Funai, who was killed by a drunk driver in a hit-and-run incident.

Reader Irene Ota sent me the following email:

“Hello, Mr. Yoshinaga. Upon the suggestion of a friend, I am writing to you to ask if you would publish an update about the tragic death of Sho Funai and the efforts of family and friends to petition the judge to a fair sentence for the hit-and-run driver. My friend thought that you previously wrote about this. In any case, please read the forwarded email and petitions and judge for yourself if this merits mention in your column.”

The following message from Daisuke Funai, Sho’s brother, was included in Irene’s letter:

“We can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done. The outpouring of support has really been moving, as we’ve seen people from all walks of life and from all over the world take a moment to express solidarity. A Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) representative has written to me:

“‘It’s incredible the attention your petition is getting. It’s growing like wildfire. I spoke to a gentleman from Los Angeles. Someone sent the petition to him. He was so moved he called the national office of MADD.’ …

“The movement is not about ideology or vengeance. It’s a testament to the lives that Sho touched and the injustice of it all.”

The sentencing date for the hit-and-run driver is July 26.

The furor is being created because the judge has made a statement that the driver may be given a light sentence.

About 8,000 signatures have been gathered on the petition demanding that the driver be given just punishment. The petition will be mailed to the judge.

Due to the large number of signatures on the petition seeking justice for Funai, it is getting some attention in the media.

For those who might be considering attending the sentencing on July 26 from the Los Angeles area, plans are being organized for a charter bus that will leave the area for San Diego at 9 a.m. and return at 5 p.m.

With the large number of names on the petition and hopefully a large turn-out, the judge may have to reconsider his intention to reduce the charges against the drunk driver who, by her own admission, had consumed liquor and smoked marijuana at a party before she got behind the wheel of her vehicle, which struck and killed Funai.

The judge did not charge her with any felony besides hit-and-run due to what was called a mishandled investigation that is causing him to consider probation and some sort of custody or alternatives to custody at the time of sentencing.

Will keep an eye on this story to see how it all turns out.

Another reader, Shu Miyazaki, sent me an email on a column I wrote on the top Chinese restaurants in the U.S. He wrote:

“About the 10 best Chinese restaurants in the U.S., you didn’t say who came up with the list. But, with thousands of Chinese restaurants in the state, with at least one in even a small town, how can the guy ever pick the best ten?

“I’ll bet that he hasn’t eaten in even one-tenth of one percent of them. Then there are all the regional Chinese cuisine (e.g. Cantonese, Hunan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Szechwan, Mandarin, Taiwan) and probably numerous others. It’s just impossible.

“So, Makino’s dropped their sashimi offerings? That’s one strike against them. Like I wrote before, Tokyo One in Dallas and in Houston still offers them. However, since my son moved back to Illinois, I guess we won’t be able to enjoy Tokyo One’s buffet anymore.

“That article you wrote about ‘Don’t touch my mustache’ brings back fond memories of the postwar occupation days in Japan. From 1946 to 1952 I worked as an interpreter/translator at three civilian billets in Tokyo while going to high school and college. That’s when the GIs first heard ‘do itashimashite.’ Of course, they didn’t know what it meant. But it sounded like ‘don’t touch my mustache.’ So they started saying it.

“Similarly, the waitresses at the billets started saying, ‘oburon mochi-kasu’ in their conversation, which meant ‘of course.’ They combined the Japanese ‘mochiron’ and English ‘of course’ together and thought it was cute.

“The GIs also sang the song ‘Suntory Sue’ to the tune of ‘Sioux City Sue.’

“Suntory oburon mochikasu was the only Japanese whiskey available at the time. The song went something like this: ‘Suntory Sue, Suntory Sue, your hair is black, your eyes are bold and your teeth are capped with gold.’ I don’t remember the rest of the song but if you should print this, maybe one of your readers might remember the song in its entirety.”

Thanks, Shu. I’m sure I’ll hear from one of the readers.

I found it hard to believe when I first read the article on the front page of The Daily Breeze last Tuesday.

The Gardena City Council is considering a ban on the sale of single cigars in the tobacco shops within its city limits. There are 53 tobacco retailers in Gardena.

City Councilman Dan Medina, who introduced the measure, opposes the sale of single cigars because it is too easy for adults to buy them for children.

He said a lot of the single-type products are being geared towards younger kids, some of them packaged like candies.


When I run out of my Las Vegas-purchased cigars, I do go to the local tobacco shops to buy a few stogies and I sure don’t see any cigars that can be mistaken for candy.

Medina was quoted as saying, “All the kids have to do is ask any adult to buy one for them. Some of the cigarillos are sold for 40 cents.”

Obviously Medina must feel like every adult will break the law by buying one of them.

Ridiculous. If I’m in a tobacco store and some kids ask me to buy him a cigar, I’d lecture the youngster and also inform the tobacco shop owner to deny any adult from buying one for a youngster.

Hopefully, the other members of Gardena City Council won’t go along with Medina’s suggestion.

I’m not saying this because I chew on cigars. I just think it’s ridiculous for a city to pass such a law.

I have two friends on the City Council whom I feel have more brains than to follow Medina, I hope.

A while back, a reader asked me why I’m a Republican.

Well, another reader sent me the following, which might help make explain why I’m a member of the GOP:

Which side of the Democrat/Republican fence are you on? This is a test.

If a Republican doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one. If a Democrat doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a Republican is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat. If a Democrat is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a Republican is down and out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A Democrat wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a Republican doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels. Democrats demand that those they don’t like be shut down.

If a Republican is a nonbeliever, he doesn’t go to church. A Democrat nonbeliever wants any mention of God and religion silenced.

If a Republican decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it or may choose a job that provides it. A Democrat demands that the rest of us pay for his.

If a Republican reads this, he’ll forward it so his friends can have a good laugh. A Democrat will delete it because he’s offended.

Well, I’m printing it.

Since my son graduated from the Air Force Academy, I became familiar with Colorado Springs, where the institution is located.

So when the news of the raging fire was reported on TV, I took more than casual interest in the disaster.

I assumed that the U.S. Forest Service played an important role in fighting the Colorado Springs fire. At least I hope so.

I say this because the agency is ignoring the Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors’ (headed by Mike Antonovich) recommendation to change nighttime aerial firefighting policy.

With the high temperature and dry conditions, Antonovich feels it is imperative for changes to be made before we might see a Colorado Springs-type wild fire threatening Southern California.

On a motion by Mike, the Board of Supervisors is sending the U.S. secretary of agriculture another five-signature letter asking that the Forest Service adopt the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s recommendations, which include nighttime air attacks.

Then we won’t have a duplication of past fires that have destroyed so many structures as well as our forests.

Go get ’em, Mike and your Board of Supervisors.

Ah, my favorite topic.

How many of you knew that there is a “Natto Day”? Yup. It was this past Tuesday, July 10.

I learned of Natto Day because a reader sent me the following:

“‘You’re celebrating Natto Day, aren’t you?’ asked a Japanese friend the other day as we stood in line at a grocery store.

“I replied, ‘You know, you just asked me a tag question.’

“A tag question, for all you grammar enthusiasts, is a sentence in which a declarative statement or an imperative is turned into a question by adding an interrogative fragment — i.e. the ‘tag.’

“So, for instance, my friend could have uttered the tag question: ‘You will be celebrating Natto Day, won’t you?’ or ‘We’d better buy some natto in preparation for Natto Day, hadn’t we?’ to get across the same point.

“The most common way to answer a tag question is in agreement with the expectation of the asker. So yes, of course, I will celebrate Natto Day on July 10, so named to fall on the date 7-l0 because the numbers in Japanese make a pun with the word ‘natto.’

“The Japanese love all kinds of number-related puns, some of which are date-related and some that are memories, which my friend proceeded to explain in painstaking detail, no doubt to make up for my grammar lesson.

“I was going to eat some natto with my rice on July 10 but my friend suggested that I try cooking with natto and I’m glad I did. If you already love natto, then you might wonder why you would take a perfectly malodorous gooey batch of fermented soybeans and do anything with it besides eat it out of the box.

“Sometimes I add natto to miso soup, but that was as far as I went with cooking natto. As it turns out, natto is delicious in other cooking presentations as well. The heat takes some of the pungency out of the beans and transforms them into savory, cheese-like nuggets.

“The recipe for natto spring rolls comes from Elizabeth Andoh, one of my favorite cookbook authors. She pairs natto with green scallions and seaweed in the filling. I think that basically anything rolled up and deep fried will be good, but imagine biting into a freshly fried spring roll, its shell breaking off in crispy, golden-brown shards to a piping hot center of natto bean. The taste is still distinctly natto-esque, but with kind of maturity and softness that is really pleasant.

“Prior to rolling up the spring rolls, I mix in soy and mustard packs that come with the natto containers, though if your package of natto comes without condiments, then it’s easy enough to add your own. In addition to seaweed and scallions, try adding to the filling parboiled shreds of daikon, carrots or anything else you would like to eat with natto.”

Remember, Natto Day was July 10.

Okay, all you JA golfers out there in the reader audience. You might get a chuckle out of today’s laugher:

A golfer accidentally overturned his cart.

Masako, a beautiful golfer who lived in the villa on the golf course, heard the noise and yelled over to Takeshi.

“Hey, are you okay? What’s your name?

“Takeshi,” he replied.

“Takeshi, forget your trouble. Come to my villa, rest up and I’ll help you get the cart up later.”

“That’s mighty nice of you,” Takeshi replied, “but I don’t think my wife would like it.”

“Aw, come on,” Masako insisted. She was very pretty and persuasive.

“Well, okay,” Takeshi finally agreed, but he added, “My wife won’t like it.”

After a hearty drink and sexy driving and putting lessons, Takeshi thanked his hostess. “I feel a lot better now, but I know my wife is going to be real upset.

“Don’t be foolish,” Masako said with a smile. “She won’t know anything. By the way, where is she?”

“Under the cart.”

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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