From left: Kensaku Nakayama, Joyce Miyauchi Valenzuela, Francine Imai, Margaret Miyauchi Leong, Assemblymember Miguel Santiago.

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) joined Save Our Seniors Network and other local legislators in their demand for investigations into Kei-Ai L.A., the Pacifica-owned nursing home that has been called “the deadliest nursing home in the state” (Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2021)

Attendees paid their respects to residents of the Pacifica facilities who have died.

Santiago was among the speakers at Kansha Obon 4, held on Aug. 26 in the plaza outside the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo.

These numbers represent residents who died at Kei L.A. and Kei-Ai South Bay, and Sakura ICF residents who died after being evicted.

“We will pursue this, we will get some answers, we will not let this go. Our communities will not be forgotten!” he stated. “Thank you so much for your courage in speaking out for justice and transparency.”

Left: Actor Derek Mio served as emcee. Right: Poet Mike Sonksen.

Santiago issued certificates of recognition to Dr. Kensaku Nakayama and Francine Imai, whose mothers were evicted from Sakura Intermediate Care Facility in Boyle Heights and were offered Kei-Ai L.A. in Lincoln Heights as an alternative, which they refused; Margaret Miyauchi Leong and Joyce Miyauchi Valenzuela, whose father contracted COVID when he was on a non-COVID floor at Kei-Ai L.A.

Taiko drummers Maceo Hernandez and Walter Nishinaka kept the beat.

Comedian and actor Derek Mio served as emcee and introduced community artists who support the investigation. Maceo Hernandez, the “Demon Drummer from East L.A.”; Nori Tani, internationally acclaimed jazz flutist; and poet Mike Sonksen from Rissho Kosei-kai Buddhist Church delivered their messages with their performances.

The dancers were led by teachers in the inner circle, including Christine Inouye and Toru Nagao.

The Bon Odori was led by master teacher Elaine Fukumoto, assisted by Christine Inouye, Toru Nagao, James Harada, and Bev Toyama. Dancers included first-timers as well as regulars from Southern California Buddhist temples and community centers.

Dancers of all ages took part in Bon Odori in the plaza.

Rev. Ray Fukumoto, Kansha Obon 4 coordinator for Save Our Seniors Network, remarked, “We dance to show honor and reverence towards the departed and to show our feelings of gratitude as part of our message.”

Flutist Nori Tani performed.

During the event, large white numbers, two feet tall, stood on stage behind the candlelight memorial table: “115” for those who died of COVID at Kei-Ai L.A., “19” for those who died at Kei-Ai South Bay in Gardena, and “9” for those who died after being evicted from Sakura ICF.

For more information on the call for investigations, email

Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo

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