On June 26 at the LTCC general meeting, new officers and board members were elected and Mike Okamoto was chosen for his second term as the chairperson. The following are a few questions and answers with the chair.

Mike Okamoto

What is the Little Tokyo Community Council?
The Little Tokyo Community Council is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) that has over 90-plus member organizations and we work to ensure that Little Tokyo will continue to be a viable center for the Japanese American community and the Los Angeles Downtown community. Our united efforts are regarded as our strength and toughness from outside communities.

With what support can we ensure the future of Little Tokyo?
Little Tokyo is a major historic, cultural and civic center for Japanese Americans living in Southern California, with its roots dating back into the 1880s.  It persists today, anchored by its multi-generational family businesses, churches and temples, and non-profit community organizations. With its new businesses and new visitors, Little Tokyo continues to evolve with designs to maintain its links to its cultural and historic heritage.

Many challenges remain, including the prospect of major construction with the proposed Metro Regional Connector running through the heart of Little Tokyo.

The formation of the Little Tokyo Community Council (LTCC) in 2000 has provided a mechanism through which the businesses, residents and nonprofits can work together to face the challenges of the future. If its history is any indication, Little Tokyo will persist and welcome the next generation of new visitors and supporters.

How can we get involved in LTCC?
I still remember my first visit to the Little Tokyo Community Council regular meeting. It was kind of scary — having all the stakeholders sitting and talking about things that I as a newcomer could not understand!

However, lately it is much more inviting and open to the public, so you do not have to be afraid. We have a self-introduction corner at the beginning so you know who are in attendance. All board members are ready to assist and help if there are any questions. Especially, for those who hesitate to speak out because of their language barriers, we are ready to assist with translation.

Our regular monthly community meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of each month (no meetings are held in August and December) from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Japanese American National Museum, 369 E. First St.

Our much-improved website is up and running so that you can check it out for the meeting dates and times.

Why should I become a member?
LTCC provides such benefits as networking opportunities with other non-profits, businesses and residents, access to a forum to learn about community events, organizations, businesses and current events, dissemination of your agency’s events via the LTCC mailing list and the website, invitations to LTCC public forums and events. You do not have to be a member in getting benefits of LTCC, but just as other organizations, our membership dues help to support the mission of the Little Tokyo Community Council.

Any special message to Rafu readers?
We are all busy every day with our lives.  It is very difficult to be aware of all the things happening around us in our community both now and in future. However, some things may have unanticipated consequences. Especially, public hearings and community forums are provided to evaluate the future consequences — good or bad — in light of your own life and your community.

Unfortunately at many occasions, not participating is deemed accepted. As they say, “good things come in small packages!” “Surprise” can come in small packages, too, and while you are unaware, “surprise” can grow out of control in your backyard.

I would like to invite you all to be in our LTCC loop to ensure that Little Tokyo can continue to be a viable center for the Japanese American community and the Los Angeles Downtown community.

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