Chogi Higa (left) receives a commendation from Consul General Jun Niimi. (Photos by JUN NAGATA/Rafu Shimpo)

The Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles on Nov. 26 conferred on Chogi Higa, former board chair of Rafu Uwamachi Daini Gakuen, Okinawa goodwill ambassador and Okinawan language instructor, the Commendation of the Consul General.

The commendation is conferred on individuals or organizations promoting mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and the United States, in support of a consulate general’s mission.

From left: Chogi Higa, his wife Hiroko, eldest son Tomohiro, and second son Ben.

Consul General Jun Niimi presented the commendation at his official residence with Higa’s family and friends in attendance. Niimi praised Higa for his years of community service. In his acceptance speech, Higa said that his accomplishments were not his alone, but were achieved with the help of many people.

Higa was born in Okinawa Prefecture in 1940. After graduating from Futenma High School, he moved to Los Angeles with the help of his uncle who was a resident. While he worked for Hinode Tofu Co., he took evening courses at Woodbury University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1970. Upon graduation, he worked for Lucky Stores Inc. (currently Albertsons Co.) until his retirement in 2001.

He has long been an active member of various Japanese American community organizations. At Rafu Uwamachi Daini Gakuen, he served as chairman of the school board for three years and contributed to nurturing youth and promoting Japanese language education. He has also filled various posts successively in the Okinawa Association of America Inc. and the Japanese Prefectural Association of Southern California, deepening his ties in the community.

Higa has devoted himself to promoting Japanese and Okinawan culture, including the languages, as well as passing them on to future generations. He continues to remain active, and currently teaches Okinawan language at the Okinawa Association of America Center. His work of introducing and promoting Okinawan culture in the U.S. has played an important role in presenting Japan’s multiculturalism.

Higa was also honored as a pioneer at this year’s Nisei Week Japanese Festival.

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