Senator Slade Gorton and Two Community Leaders Recognized for their Contributions to Japan-US Relations

On January 19, 2017, the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle recognized three highly-qualified individuals for their contributions to Japan-US relations. In a ceremony held during the New Year’s Reception at the Official Residence, they were each awarded the Consul General’s Commendation. The recipients are as follows (in alphabetical order):


1. Senator Slade Gorton
During his time as senator, Slade Gorton strengthened friendly relations with Japan and fostered many connections across the pacific. His most notable contribution to U.S.-Japan relations came in 1991, when he reached out to Nintendo Co. Ltd. to invest in the Seattle Mariners in order to keep the team in Seattle. Despite opposition to investment by a Japanese company in a U.S. baseball team, Senator Gorton formed an ownership group with other local companies and negotiated a deal in which Nintendo was the majority stakeholder. This deal not only kept the Mariners in Seattle, it opened the door for Japanese players to enter the Major Leagues, and significantly furthered mutual understanding between our two countries.

2. Mr. Masaru Tahara
Masaru Tahara has served the Nikkei community for many years as a board member of the Japanese Community Service of Seattle and is currently serving as the organization’s co-president. He also currently serves as director of the board for both the Seattle Japanese Language School and the Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Church. In addition to these important leadership roles, Mr. Tahara has authored several books, including “New Year Festivities”, “A Chronology of the Seattle Nikkeijinkai”, and “Tengu – Tales Told by Fishermen and Women of The Tengu Club of Seattle.” Mr. Tahara’s many valuable contributions will help to preserve and convey the culture and history of the Nikkei community for future generations.

3. Mr. Dennis Yamashita
Dennis Yamashita has held many positions over the years, including chair of the Japan America Society of the State of Washington, president of the Japanese Community Service of Seattle, and president of Nikkei Concerns, now Keiro Northwest. During his time leading these organizations, Mr. Yamashita made valuable contributions to both the local community and to Washington State-Japan relations. He continues to serve as a board member in all of these organizations, and is an active volunteer in other community events such as the annual Bon-Odori festival. It is thanks to the efforts of leaders like Mr. Yamashita that the local Nikkei community continues to thrive, and the Washington-Japan relationship remains strong.



The Consul General’s Commendation is awarded in recognition of outstanding achievements in and contributions to the promotion of good relations between Japan and the United States.