On November 3, 2018, the Government of Japan announced the recipients of its Fall 2018 Decorations and within this Consulate General’s jurisdiction, Mr. Chogi Higa received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays.
Mr. Higa was born in 1940 in the village of Nakagusuku in Nakagami, Okinawa Prefecture. After graduating from Futenma High School, he moved to the United States with the support of his uncle residing in Los Angeles, and worked at Hinode Tofu Company while continuing his studies. In 1970, he graduated from Woodbury University with a Bachelor’s degree in International Trade, and began working for Lucky Stores Inc. (currently Albertsons Companies) until his retirement from the company in 2001.
He served the Los Angeles based Japanese language school Rafu Uwamachi Daini Gakuen for 15 years as a volunteer. He served four years as Vice Chair and three years as Chair, and contributed to the nurturing of youth and the promotion of Japanese language education and culture to the Los Angeles Japanese American community.
He served as President of the Okinawa Association of America for five years, and established the Katayabira Uchinaaguchi Class, Senior Citizens Club, and Library. In 2005 he was awarded by the Okinawa Association of America. At the Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival of Okinawa heritage, he was appointed as a New Okinawa Goodwill Ambassador by Okinawa Prefecture to help build bridges between the United States and Okinawa and also awarded to honor his contributions to the development of the Okinawa Prefecture heritage community and the friendship between Japan and the countries of the diaspora.
For eleven years he volunteered as a radio personality for regional Japanese radio station on its some programs including Haisai Uchinaa (“Hello Okinawa”). He contributed greatly to the operation and continued broadcasting of Japanese radio shows which supported the preservation of Japanese language use in the Japanese American community. The programs also introduced Okinawan dialect and culture, and Mr. Higa was instrumental in passing down language and culture particularly to the younger generations.
Mr. Higa was appointed as the President of the Japanese Prefectural Association of Southern California in 2011.When the Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March, he played a central role by taking the lead in communications with U.S.-based organizations in the midst of the turmoil in the Japanese American community at the time. In addition to gathering a total of $180,000 in relief aid, he delivered rousing words of encouragement to the victims at events beginning with the “Great East Japan Earthquake Victims 100th Day Buddhist Memorial Service,” and including many others. He contributed greatly to the cohesion of the regional Japanese American community and its relief aid efforts.
The conferment ceremony for Mr. Higa was held on January 24, 2019 at 2 p.m. at the Official Residence of the Consul General of Japan and was attended by 40 guests. After the ceremony a reception was held, which was enjoyed by all the guests. Moreover, the Certificate of State Assembly Member Recognition was presented by California Assembly Member Mr. Al Muratsuchi.