President’s Message

Year of the Snake

Ken_ThumbAs we begin to bid adieu to the year of the Dragon, I would like to wish you and your family good health and happiness in the Year of the Snake. January is the time for new beginnings and is also a time for us to contemplate the life lessons and joys of the past year. On the last day of the old year, my parents have religiously cleaned their home from top to bottom to symbolically rid the events of the past year and to welcome the new with a clean slate. They rise before the new dawn to insure good fortune. Sadly both traditions have disappeared from my household.
In the past, all outstanding debts were paid off on the last day—a practice which still continues in Japan today. Yamaoka Tesshu (1836-1888), founder of the Itto Shoden Muto-ryu (The sword of no-sword) was an famous imbiber who was always giving money to the needy and therefore always in debt. When confronted by debt collectors at his door on New Years eve, he asked them to symbolically accept—for the time being —his sincere desire to settle his debts. They all left with pieces of his famous calligraphy instead .

This auspicious year also marks the anniversary of the historic 25th Redress Settlement between the NAJC and the Government of Canada. We acknowledge our debt to those leaders and many unnamed volunteers across Canada who made the settlement possible. The acceptance of the apology and compensation from the Government symbolically gave the Japanese Canadian community the responsibility to be advocates for human rights.

Idle No More – First Nations
I have formally sent a letter to National Chief Shaun A-in-chut Atleo requesting a meeting to discuss the implications to his people and to the environment as a result of the Harper Government’s Omnibus Budget Bill and to explore what role our organization can play to lend support. Here in Ontario, Chief Theresa Spencer, of the Attawapiskat Reserve has gone on a hunger strike to protest the deplorable conditions on her reserve and their unsafe drinking water. A grass-roots movement organized by Aboriginal People is now gaining momentum across Canada and may become a major factor in the New Year. It is time for the NAJC to reconnect with the First Nations peoples and other ethno-cultural organizations.

Important change to the Endowment Fund Deadline
Upon the recommendation of the Endowment Fund Committee, the National Executive Board has adopted the recommendation that the twice annual award period of March 31st and September 30th be changed to only one annual award period. Effective in 2013, March 31st will be the only time applications will be accepted. By consolidating the two awards periods into one, there will be enough funds to make more substantial financial awards to deserving CD/SEAD projects.
The Fall 2012 allocations have been made and letters and contracts have been sent out to successful applicants. I would like to thank Janine Oye (Vancouver) and Alan Tanaka (Calgary) who will be stepping down after two yeas of service to the Endowment Committee.

2013 NAJC Heritage Tours: Japan & Hawai’i
As the temperature dips closer to freezing our thoughts turn instinctively to warmer climes. Currently, our National office, Safeway Consultants (Vancouver) and Signet Tours are putting together 4 Heritage Tours for 2013. On the heels of the successful October tour to Japan (see Terumi Kuwada’s report in the November Bulletin), 3 tours to Japan and 1 to Hawai’i will be offered. Please note that the pricing for the Summer and Fall Japan Heritage Tours have yet to be finalized.
A)    Japan Heritage Tours:
1) April in Kyushu (Sakura season): Kagoshima, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Ibusuki, Unzen, Beppu, Yufin and Tokyo. Dates: April 3 to 13th for 9 nights. $5,099 from Toronto and $4,949 from Vancouver. Taxes and fuel charge extra.
2) Summer in Kanto: Tokyo, Kamakura, Mount Fuji and Hakone area, Atami Hot Springs, Odawara. TBA
3) Fall in Kansai: Tokyo, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Special inaka (country) experience. TBA
B)     Hawai’I Heritage Tour:

The Hawaiian culture, food and language have been greatly influenced by the Japanese immigrants whose descendants now constitute the second largest ethnic group here. 2013 is also the 25th anniversary of the Japanese American Redress Settlement so we can take part in two celebrations in two countries!

What makes this tour different from others is that we will have the opportunity to interact with Japanese Americans and experience their history and culture first-hand. We will also learn to cook Hawaiian cuisine and make crafts. Summer is also Obon time and arrangements will be made for us to take part in the festivities. Visits to Japanese American businesses and restaurants will be on the itinerary. In addition, we will visit the ‘must see’ sites such as: Shirokiya Department Store in the Ala Moana Centre; Fort DeRussy to learn about the exploits of the 442nd Japanese American Combat Regiment; the surfing town of Haleiwa; Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center; Dole Pineapple Plantation; Chinatown Walking Tour; Honolulu Academy of Arts; Lynn Arboretum and the Waikiki Aquarium. There will be free time for you to explore such places as Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, Hanauma Bay and more. I look forward to being your personal tour guide to paradise. Dates: July 24 to August 1. $2,545 from Toronto, $2,215 from Vancouver.

For inquires and detailed itinerary please contact: Mr. Joseph Sheu (Safeway Consultants). 1-888-258-4716 (toll free) or

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