From left: Grace Shiba, George Tanaka, Bryan Takeda, David Ono, Consul General Akira Muto and Haru Takehana at the 2022 Jokun recognition luncheon on June 5 at Quiet Cannon.

By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Senior Editor

MONTEBELLO — David Ono and Bryan Takeda were honored at the 2022 Jokun Recognition Community Luncheon held on June 5 at Quiet Cannon in Montebello, sponsored by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

This was the first time in two years that the luncheon was held. Grace Shiba, emcee for the occasion, said, “We were virtual in 2021. We’re elated that we are all able to gather together in person to recognize our honorees.”

Ono and Takeda were recipients of Kunsho awards last fall from the Japanese government for their work bridging the U.S. and Japan and volunteering within the Japanese and Japanese American communities.

Congratulatory remarks were given by Haru Takehana, president of the JCCF, George Tanaka, vice chairman of the Go For Broke National Education Center, and Consul General Akira Muto.

Ono, recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun Gold Rays with Rosette, is the evening anchor for ABC7 Eyewitness News and has reported on issues within the JA community and Japan, including the Emmy Award-winning “Legacy of Heart Mountain.”

David Ono (right) and Haru Takehana share a toast as Consul General Akira Muto looks on.

Takeda, recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun Gold and Silver Rays, is an active leader in numerous organizations, including Pasadena Japanese Cultural Institute, Pasadena Sister Cities Committee, Nikkei Federation and Mirai Nihongo Gakuin.

Takeda said that receiving the Kunsho was the honor of a lifetime and he dedicated the award to his late father, Kiyoshi Takeda. He said helping future generations is the common theme that has driven his passion for volunteering.

“Because I believe that we should encourage youth to experience all that is beautiful and important about Japan. Its culture, its rich traditions, the valuable lessons I learned from kendo. All so that they can better appreciate the many wonderful cultures that we live with here in Los Angeles,” Takeda said. “Not just to understand our differences, but, more importantly, to celebrate all that we have in common. And so that our Nikkei organizations, institutions and community will have a pipeline of inspired leaders that will preserve and strengthen our community.”

Takeda shared vivid memories of his first trip to Japan, including falling into a rice paddy, and he encouraged the gathering to connect with their Japanese heritage.

Keiko Takeshita performs the national anthems of the U.S. and Japan.

“May I suggest that everyone appreciate our past, visit Japan, ‘fall into a rice field and get dirty’ to develop relationships, make friends, strengthen ties and pursue opportunities together,” Takeda said.

Ono looked around the room of more than 100 and said that he recognized friends at every table.

“I’m the biggest mooch in the room. I don’t do anything great except tell your story. As a journalist that’s kind of our job. Our job is not to be a great person. It’s our job to be the person that talks about great people,” Ono said. “I feel like that’s who you guys are. As a result I’ve learned so much.

“I remember when Nisei Week first asked me to emcee something. I didn’t know what Nisei meant, much less what this thing was, and they taught me a lot about the JA community.”

Ono acknowledged members of the Asian American Journalists Association-Los Angeles Chapter who were in attendance, including Pam Chen, news director of ABC7 and the first Asian American to lead a news department at a network-owned local television station in Los Angeles.

“She’s been a champion to Asian and Asian American causes and I feel so comfortable having her at the helm of our newsroom,” he said.

Photos by GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo

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