Tomo Mizutani (second from right) receives the Japan America Society of Southern California's International Citizen Award at its annual gala. He is joined by (from right) Terry Hara, Keiko Brockel and Douglas Montgomery.
Tomo Mizutani (second from right) receives the Japan America Society of Southern California’s International Citizen Award at its annual gala. He is joined by (from right) Terry Hara, Keiko Brockel and Douglas Montgomery.

Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc., a leading manufacturer of off-road and street performance tires, was recognized by the Japan America Society of Southern California (JASSC) at its 105th Anniversary Dinner & Gala Celebration on June 17 in Beverly Hills.

Tomo Mizutani was presented with the organization’s Kokusai Shimin Sho (International Citizens Award) in recognition of his business leadership, community involvement, and stewardship to strengthen Japanese American relations.

The JASSC was founded in 1909 to build economic, cultural, governmental and personal relationships between the people of Japan and America. The society created the Victor M. Carter Perpetual Award in 1961 to honor citizens of the greater Los Angeles area who have done the most to foster and perpetuate friendship and understanding between the U.S. and Japan. In 1988, the organization then went on to create the International Citizens Award to honor and recognize individuals, businesses or organizations that have substantively and significantly enhanced the Japan-U.S. relationship and are committed to the strengthening of bonds between the two nations.

With the latest award, Nitto Tire and Mizutani have joined the ranks of the many esteemed businesses and individuals that have been honored over the award’s 26-year history.

“It is an honor to have been recognized not just for the work that we have done to grow a Japanese business in America,” said Mizutani, “but also for the outreach that we have done with the Japanese American community.”

During Mizutani’s tenure as president of Nitto Tire, he increased the company’s revenue three-fold while also doubling the number of tires sold by positioning Nitto as an original and creative force in the automotive industry. Mizutani led Nitto’s award-winning marketing efforts that included building a social media following of over 7 million fans on Facebook while still catering to the car enthusiasts that made the brand what it is today. Through his efforts, Nitto solidified itself as a brand fueled by enthusiasts and as a leader in tire manufacturing and technology in the U.S.

Mizutani’s contributions didn’t stop at his business and marketing achievements. He knew that having a successful business in the U.S. was not only about sales and profit, but also about giving back to the community. Under this philosophy, Nitto has become a prominent part of the Japanese American community, supporting organizations like the JASSC as well as the Japanese American National Museum, where it has sponsored a multi-language digital docent app that allows tourists from all over the world to explore the museum when actual docents aren’t available.

Under Mizutani’s guidance, Nitto has also created an award-winning video series that highlights influential individuals such as the late Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, former NFL player Scott Fujita, and non-Japanese Americans who have contributed significantly to the community. It is Nitto’s hope to preserve and share the legacy of Japanese American history as well as shed light on the unsung heroes of the community through the Nitto Video Collection.

The International Citizens Award was presented to Mizutani by LAPD Deputy Chief Terry Hara, chairman of the JASSC, and Douglas Montgomery, Anniversary Dinner Committee chair for the JASSC. The evening closed with a surprise cake and song to celebrate Mizutani’s birthday, which was the following day.

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