On Wednesday, June 8, 2016, the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles conferred the Commendation of the Consul General on Ms. Yasuko Sakamoto.
Ms. Sakamoto’s biography and achievements are as follows:
Ms. Yasuko Sakamoto was born in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture. After graduating high school, she moved to Tokyo and studied English Literature at Meiji Gakuin University. A few years later, she entered the social work program in the Sociology Department of Meiji Gakuin University with the goal of becoming a counselor. Upon obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, she worked at a neurology clinic in Tokyo, providing both inpatient and outpatient services. She moved to Los Angeles in 1976, working at the Oriental Service Center for a year and a half before joining the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), established in 1980, as its first Japanese/English bilingual case manager. She subsequently completed a Masters of Social Welfare program at the University of California, Los Angeles and obtained licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) to provide mental health counseling in California. As director of social services at LTSC, Ms. Sakamoto has contributed to developing social services and mental health programs that are culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate for the Japanese/Japanese American community.
As a Japanese-English bilingual social worker, Ms. Sakamoto has provided essential services to Japanese speakers such as first-generation Issei and more recently arrived Shin-Issei families unable to access English-only programs. She has also often worked with social services agencies, police departments, and the court system on behalf of her clients. She has contributed greatly to the mental health and social welfare of the Nikkei community, including first generation Issei and subsequent generations, through numerous programs such as the Family Counseling Program. Ms. Sakamoto has also assisted local Japanese residents and Japanese tourists in their times of need. On many occasions, she has been a reassuring presence and instrumental in the Consulate General of Japan’s efforts to assist Japanese nationals in the region.
3. Conferment Ceremony
The ceremony was held at the official residence of the Consul General on June 8, 2016 at 2 p.m, with Ms. Sakamoto’s family, colleagues and friends in attendance. In his remarks, Consul General Harry H. Horinouchi expressed appreciation to Ms. Sakamoto for her years of service to the Japanese American community and support extended to Japanese residents and tourists. Ms. Sakamoto talked about her experiences and her work at LTSC, as well as her post-retirement plans. Dean Matsubayashi, Executive Director of LTSC, offered congratulatory remarks and thanked Ms. Sakamoto for her great achievements. The toast was given by Mr. Bill Watanabe, former Founding Executive Director of LTSC. The 30-minute conferment ceremony was followed by a reception enjoyed by all the guests.