Prominent Japanese American activist Alan Nishio dies at 78

Prominent Japanese American activist Alan Nishio dies at 78Prominent Japanese American activist Alan Nishio dies at 78
via Densho, UCLA Asian American Studies Center
Community leaders, members and activists are mourning the passing of Alan Nishio, a pillar in the Los Angeles Japanese American community and mentor to many, at the age of 78.
What happened: Nishio died on Dec. 27, 2023, at his home in Gardena, California, after a 17-year battle with a rare form of cancer. A gathering celebrating his life will be held in his honor at Terasaki Budokan in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles on Feb. 10, according to the Rafu Shimpo.
About Nishio: Nishio was born in the Manzanar incarceration camp of World War II on Aug. 9, 1945. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1966 and his master’s degree in public administration from the University of California in 1968. Some organizations he helped build up and worked with include the Little Tokyo People’s Rights Organization, the California Japanese American Community Leadership Council, the Japanese American National Museum and the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. He was also the first interim director of the University of California, Los Angeles, Asian American Studies Center.
Nishio received the “Order of the Rising Sun with Gold Rays and Rosette” from the Japanese government in 2016, followed by the Manzanar Committee’s 2017 Sue Kunitomi Embrey Legacy Award, the 2019 Nisei Week Inspiration Award and the Japanese American Citizens League’s President’s Lifetime Achievement Award in June 2023.
Remembering the man: Japanese American organizations paid tribute to Nishio after the announcement of his death, including the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), where he served as its longest tenured board president for 20 years.
“Alan could listen to conflicting viewpoints during a Board discussion and somehow synthesize differing comments into a common-ground resolution that everyone on the Board could support,” said LTSC Founding Executive Director Bill Watanabe.
Bruce Embrey, co-chair of the Manzanar Committe, also released a statement following the news. “Alan will be remembered as a tireless community activist, principled, kind, and selfless,” he said in part.
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