By: Brian Nishida, Event Chair
“Leadership…It starts with getting in the game.” was the theme illustrated throughout the 11th Annual Inauguration & Generational Award sold-out luncheon event with over 500 attendees. Most notable was the keynote speech by Mr. Colbert Matsumoto, Chairman, Island Insurance, who told the compelling story of the multiple points of leadership that collectively saved the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii by raising $9 Million in just a few months. This remarkable success would not have been possible without many individuals deciding to get involved; many of whom were driven by the ‘kachikan’ values; beginning with Mr. Matsumoto, who accepted the daunting leadership role.
Incoming Chairman Tyler Tokioka, Vice President, Island Insurance reminded us of the origins of the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce, an organization born from the decision of its 16 founders to get in the game, despite the daunting challenges of a community literally in ashes. He reminded us of the importance of, and benefit to, members of getting involved, of creating connections and partnerships.
In his speech that installed Mr. Tokioka as the new HJCC Chairman, Governor David Ige similarly emphasized the real-life value of initiating connections and partnerships, as he recounted his first meeting with Prime Minister Abe of Japan. What should have been only a 10-minute courtesy visit, stretched to a half hour conversation, due to the affinity between Hawaii and Japan.
Mr. Paul Uyehara, who represented the Generational Award recipient Aloha Tofu Factory & the Uyehara family, shared how his grandparents decided to get in the game to establish their iconic Hawaii business. Paul also made that similar personal decision to lead the business into the future by bringing innovation and growth. The unique okara-based green tea cookies Aloha Tofu provided to all guests was an example of that creativity coming from Tofu Town. The outstanding video produced by member JN Productions superbly captured the pioneering spirit and successful evolution of the honoree. The award is given to a member company who has been in business for at least 2 decades.
The many compliments by attendees is a testament to the continuing spirit of HJCC members being willing to step up to support one another. A shining example is the Maneki Neko favor boxes which were produced by member Edward Enterprise that promoted member Island Insurance. Member Pacific Business News provided the, hot off the press, special publication featuring the Chamber. Member Orasi Design provided the creativity of the wonderfully crafted event invitations. Member Kyo-ya, owner of the Sheraton Waikiki hotel, provided an outstanding meal and service, including the assembly of employees bidding Mahalo to attendees as they departed. Thanks to member Hawaii News Now, emcee Steve Uyehara kept the program moving at a steady pace with his humor and communication skills.
Many hands helped to produce this great experience for the HJCC. Special recognition goes to event committee members Clayton Hill, Lyle Takeuchi, Jodene Arakaki, Layne Yoshida, Randall Chung, David Yamashita, Matt Miura, Phyllis Kihara, Mark Ibara, Stacie Koike, Brian Nishida and HJCC coordinator Mina Sakai.
Thank you to all who supported the event with purchases of tables and tickets which made it such a success.