Paul Kunio Shiba, a longtime leader in the Japanese American community in Southern California, passed away on July 26 in Los Angeles. He was 92.
In 2010, Shiba was bestowed the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays by the Japanese government for his efforts to enhance Japanese education in the U.S., the inheritance of Japanese culture in Southern California and the enhancement of welfare for Japanese and Japanese American seniors in the Los Angeles region.
Born in California, Shiba moved to his parents’ hometown in Shizuoka Prefecture during his early years. While his children were enrolled in the Japanese Language School Unified System (Kyodo System), he became involved at the administrative level and worked for the expansion of Japanese language and culture education. In addition, he drew on this experience to become involved in the federation of Japanese language schools in California, the California Association of Japanese Language Schools, Inc. He became chairman of the association’s Textbook Management Committee and contributed to the revision of Japanese language teaching materials in the U.S.
Shiba took on leadership roles in a number of organizations, including Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai, Nanka Shizuoka Kenjinkai, Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California, Seinan Senior Citizens’ Clubs and L.A. Holiness Church.
Through his decades of dedicated volunteer work, Shiba served as a bridge between Japan and the U.S., passing on Japanese culture and traditions to younger generations in the Japanese American community.
In 2015, Shiba was among the Nikkei leaders to welcome then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie, to Los Angeles. On the last leg of a trip to the U.S., Abe acknowledged the sacrifices and accomplishments of the local Japanese American community. Shiba was so moved by Abe’s visit and what it represented that the Kibei Nisei wrote a poem to mark the occasion.
With the Prime Minister’s visit,
U.S.-Japan kizuna is stronger than ever
Washington and Japan, in a brighter place
Shiba is survived by his wife, Mary Tayeko Shiba; children, Jane (Wally) Chung, Grace Shiba, Jimmy (Judi); grandchildren, Kristen and Jonathan Shiba; brother, Roy (Kay) Shiba; and many nieces, nephews and other relatives in the U.S. and Japan.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021 at 2:30 p.m. at Venice Free Methodist Church, 4871 Centinela Ave., Los Angeles, with Rev. Rick Chuman from JEMS (Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society) officiating. RSVP your attendance to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TB55663