Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth Honors Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae and Nobuko Sasae at 2021 Sun & Star Legacy Award Dinner
The Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth (JASDFW) hosted its annual Sun & Star Legacy Award on October 4, 2021, at the Omni Frisco Hotel. Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae and Nobuko Sasae received the 2021 Sun & Star Legacy Award and Anna McFarland was honored with the 2021 Bridges-to-Friendship Award. Ambassador Sasae served as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the United States from 2012 to 2018. His wife, Nobuko, has a long history as a conference interpreter and President of the Nobuko Forum Japan. Ms. McFarland was Executive Director of JASDFW from 1997 to 2019. Ambassador Ron Kirk served as the award dinner’s honorary host. He is currently Senior of Council at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and was both the 16th United States Trade Representative and the 57th Mayor of Dallas.
Due to the onset of COVID-19, the previous award dinner in 2020 had to be cancelled. But as vaccinations increased and injections decreased, over 250 guests were able to safely return and engage for the 2021 Sun & Star Legacy Award Dinner, JASDFW’s premier annual fundraiser. The event earned revenue of almost $230,000 through sponsorship, ticket sales, and a silent auction. The funds will support the Society’s educational, cultural, business, and public policy programs that further mutual understanding between Japanese and Americans. JASDFW was humbled to have the support of two platinum award dinner sponsors – Fujitsu and Toyota.
The evening began with a patrons’ reception for high-level sponsors and a general reception for all guests. Dallas Kiyari Daiko led guests into the ballroom and played a few of its most popular songs before the master of ceremonies, Adam Zehner, began the formal part of the program. Following opening remarks, The Honorable Hideo Fukushima, Consul-General of Japan in Houston, presented long-time JASDFW board member Elaine Browning with the Foreign Minister’s Commendation, and gave a special toast for the evening. Guests enjoyed a dinner of salad with carrot curls and sherry vinaigrette, a main course of coffee spiced crusted pork tenderloin and crusted salmon, and a dessert selection of dark chocolate torte and green tea panna cotta. Floral arrangements by Mami Driscoll added an elegant décor to the event.
2021 Bridges-to-Friendship award recipient, Anna McFarland gave a speech accepting her award, highlighting the friendship between Japanese and Americans, and honoring her father, H. Neill McFarland, who founded the Society with his wife and received the Bridges-to-Friendship Award in 2005. JASDFW President Grant Ogata and Vice President/President-Elect Harry Whalen then presented the 2021 Sun & Star Legacy Award to Ambassador and Mrs. Sasae, who virtually addressed the attendees, stressing the value of bonds in North Texas and the importance of the U.S.-Japan bilateral relationship. Videos produced by Kosuge Productions highlighted the award recipients’ impressive career accomplishments.
The Sun & Star Legacy Award is presented each year to a distinguished leaders who have enhanced the relationship between the peoples of Japan and the United States. The award is named for the Sun & Star Festival, which brought Japanese art and culture to Texas for three months in 1996. “Sun & Star” refers to Japan’s Rising Sun and the Texas Lone Star, symbolizing friendship between Japan and Texas. Recent past Sun & Star Legacy Award recipients include Irene Hirano Inouye, founding President of the U.S.-Japan Council, Governor Hideaki Ohmura of Aichi Prefecture in Japan, and Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, Ambassador of Japan to the United States from 2008 to 2012. The Bridges-to-Friendship Award is given to a local individual or organization for fostering friendship and understanding between Japanese and Americans in North Texas. Recent and past recipients of the Bridges-to-Friendship Award include Dallas Kiyari Daiko, a local taiko drumming group with over a quarter century of history, Shinsuke Takahashi, Chairman of the Board and Head of Government Relations at NEC Corporation of America, and Mark Berry, Dallas-Sendai Committee Chair.
The 2022 Sun & Star Legacy Award Dinner will take place at the Omni Frisco Hotel on Thursday, May 26. Sean Donohue, CEO of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, will receive the Sun & Star Legacy Award and Hideto Nishitani, founder of Virtuous Capital and former Chairman, President, and CEO of ORIX Corporation USA, will receive the Bridges-to-Friendship Award.