Spring 2021 Decoration Conferred on Mr. Douglas Erber

On April 29th, 2021 (Japanese Standard Time), the Government of Japan announces the recipients of its Spring 2021 Decorations. From the jurisdiction of the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, Mr. Douglas Erber received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays.

The conferment ceremony for Mr. Erber was held on Monday, September 27, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the ceremonies were held at the Consul General's Official Residence with a limited number of guests.

For nearly four decades, Mr. Douglas Erber has been promoting friendship, goodwill and understanding between Japanese and Americans through his work and volunteer activities.  For 27 years, Mr. Erber was an active member of the Japan America Society of Southern California (JASSC), a prominent Japan-related organization in Southern California, having served as president for 17 years. As president, he oversaw the organization’s strategic direction, as well as planning and execution of numerous events and projects with the goal of promoting cultural exchange, friendship and goodwill. He also served as president of the Sister City Association of Huntington Beach, greatly contributing to understanding towards Japan, and promoting friendship and goodwill between Japan and the United States.

In the aftermath of the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake, as JASSC president, Mr. Erber worked with the Board of Directors and immediately launched the 2011 Japan Relief Fund to actively raise disaster relief funds. JASSC raised nearly $1 million by the end of March 2011 and increased that tally to more than $1.5 million by 2016, with proceeds going directly to aid victims and long-term relief through organizations operating in the disaster zone. In the years that followed the disaster, Mr. Erber often traveled to the region to visit organizations and facilities that received support through the JASSC’s relief fund. Also, Mr. Erber championed the Fukushima Youth Cultural Exchange Program, which ran from 2013-2018 and invited children from youth homes in Fukushima to Los Angeles, underscoring his long-term support to disaster rebuilding efforts.

In November 2001, Mr. Erber invited Japanese Kite Master Mikio Toki from Japan to Southern California and spearheaded the establishment of the Japan America Kite Festival®. In addition to kite demonstrations by Mr. Toki, the kite festival featured Japanese candy making, taiko drum performances and Japanese food vendors. The festival promoted cultural exchange between Japan and the U.S. and was highly acclaimed, drawing interest among major media outlets in Southern California. In 2013, the event drew approximately 15,000 attendees, making it the largest Japan-related kite event outside of Japan. Also beginning in 2001, Mr. Erber organized and accompanied Mr. Toki to public elementary schools in the greater Los Angeles region to annually present kite-building workshops that teach up to 1,300 students about the tradition of Japanese kite-making using bamboo and Japanese washi paper.

When Prime Minister ABE Shinzo visited Los Angeles in May 2015, the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles and JASSC co-hosted a large welcome luncheon. Mr. Erber helped coordinate the attendance of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and officials from Japan-related organizations in the region, overseeing the luncheon’s planning and operations, making it a notable success.

As a college freshman in 1984, Mr. Erber participated in an exchange program in Anjo city, Aichi prefecture, the sister city of Huntington Beach, California. That indelible experience prompted Mr. Erber to return to Anjo in 1989, and he spent two years as an assistant language teacher and international coordinator. Upon returning to the U.S., he became the youngest-ever director to join the Sister City Association of Huntington Beach. Mr. Erber went on to serve as the association’s president for three years from 1994. During that time, he helped to further enhance ties with Anjo, including the presentation of a Huntington Beach oil pump as a gift symbolizing the cities’ friendship to Anjo Industry Culture Park Denpark, when it opened in 1997. Subsequently, Mr. Erber has served as an advisor to the association, and he welcomed to Huntington Beach a visiting delegation from Anjo in 2002 to mark the Japanese city’s 50th anniversary of its incorporation. Mr. Erber was also involved in festivities proclaiming the two cities’ perpetual friendship and contributed to the launch in 2014 of the Huntington Beach Cherry Blossom Festival (now known as the Orange County Cherry Blossom Festival). As advisor, Mr. Erber continues to work diligently to promote friendship and goodwill and cultural exchange between the two cities.