History of OFSCA
1962 – 1963: Homer Bemis
1963 – 1965: Doreta Chaney Reinhart
1965 – 1966: Philip Martin
Philip Martin was born on December 16, 1909 in Seattle, WA and moved to Berkeley when he was six years old. After he went to high school, he wanted to go to college, but he was doing quite well working at a travel agency, where he became the manager at the age of 20. He then started his own travel agency at the age of 22. Because of his travel agency business, he became interested in “anything international,” which is how he became involved in the OFSCA. He was active in the People to People organization, where he became President. He was a long-time member of the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club, as well as the International Institute of the East Bay. He was also President of the SKAL and Pal America. His hobbies and interests included playing bridge and Scrabble, as well as playing tennis until the age of 90.
1966 – 1968: Anthony Watchers
Anthony “Tony” Watchers was the son of Harry Martin Watchers and Rebecca Flora Watchers. He was born at home at 477 59th Street in Oakland, on February 12, 1913. His education included Washington Grammar School, Oakland Technical High School and UC Berkeley, where he earned a B.A. in Business Administration. He married Irene Hurley in 1935. He was a business machine salesman with Monroe Calculators most of his working life, and he lived in Berkeley and Oakland all of his life. He loved to travel, and he spoke Spanish well. In the late 1960s, he traveled to Fukuoka and became President of OFSCA.
1968 – 1969: Guy Gilchrist
1969 – 1971: Masuji Fujii
Born in Berkeley, Masuji Fujii was raised initially in the US, then lived in Fukuoka from age 10 to 18. He finished high school in Japan and then attended Armstrong Business College in Berkeley. He has been affiliated with the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Church, the JACS, and OFSCA and the East Bay Fukuoka Kenjinkai. He was a charter member of the OFSCA and during his tenure as President, OFSCA started the now-annual Moon Viewing Festival (“Otsukimi”) every October. In July 1969, his friend Ryu Ishiyama sailed in his boat solo from Japan to Oakland. A reception was held for him at the Metropolitan Yacht Club by OFSCA and the Fukuoka Kenjinkai. He then sailed off to Mexico on September 8, 1969 with his dog Skipper, who Masuji got for him.
1971 – 1973: Bill Kertuu
1973 – 1975: George Eiichi Kondo
George was a shining example of philanthropy and tireless dedicated effort to community causes, not only as a founding member of the CJAAA and Board president for over 10 years, but as an active participant in several local organizations. He was a long time resident of the Bay Area until he and his wife Chie moved to State College, Pennsylvania in 1990. A native of Berkeley, where he attended high school and graduated from UC Berkeley in 1934 with a degree in Business Administration, George and Chie, whom he married in 1940, were interned at Tanforan and Topaz during WWII, but were able to leave camp by securing jobs as domestics in the Chicago suburbs. He was later hired by an Italian-owned produce market in Chicago and worked there until returning to CA where he ran a laundry business in Berkeley. Active in the East Bay communities of Berkeley and Oakland, George was deeply involved in the OFSCA, the YMCA, Rotary Club and Optimists. He served on the Oakland Museum Advisory Committee for over 20 years. He became Regional Director of the JACL and held this position until his departure from the area in 1990. He helped start seven new JACL chapters in his district over the years. Together with the late Mo Noguchi, also a former past CJAAA president, he helped create the organization from funds earned from the sale of Euclid Hall, the Nisei dormitory at UC Berkeley, where he had been a resident. By bringing together former UCB and Euclid Hall alumnae, he established the CJAAA with the purpose of providing scholarships to entering Japanese-American students-leaders at UC Berkeley. As of 1998, the organization had given over $200K in scholarships. The Bay Area Japanese-American community lost one of its truly outstanding leaders when George Eiichi Kondo passed away in July 1998 at the age of 84.
1975 – 1977: Stan Korich
Stan Korich was born and raised in Oakland. He received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Education at San Francisco State University. He became a teacher and baseball coach for the Oakland City College and Merritt Community College between 1960 and 1998. In 1962, Stan was invited by Oakland City Councilman Frank Ogawa and the Oakland Chamber of Commerce President to attend the Oakland reception for Fukuoka Mayor Abe and his delegation, to celebrate our official sister city union. Later, Oakland’s sister school program was acclaimed “the best in the U.S.” by Reader’s Digest Foundation. The U.S. State Department reproduced Oakland’s case study for this program (13,000 students and 60 Oakland schools) and mailed a copy to every city in the U.S. as a prototype. During his tenure as President, Stan presented to the City of Fukuoka the commemorative set of J.C. Penny’s “Bicentennial Music Celebration.” He presided over the Japanese Berkeley Bears vs. Montera Junior High School’s basketball game fundraiser. He led a 35-member delegation tour to Japan that included a young Skyline High School group called “Misty Blue” to perform for Fukuoka, playing a chronology of American music from 1920 – 1976. He presented a newly instituted Asia Studies Scholarship to Merritt College students.
1977 – 1980: Margie Arp
In 1962, Margie Arp joined the People to People organization that President Eisenhower formed. In 1965, she joined OFSCA. In 1967, Mayor Abe of Fukuoka, Fukuoka City representatives and some Fukuoka Lions Club members visited Oakland and discussed a student exchange program between the two cities. At that time, since Margie was the Executive Secretary of the Lions Club of Oakland and was already involved with the Lions Club Student Exchange Program, she was approached to organize a student exchange program between the two cities. She and her late husband, Roy Arp, organized a group of host families for the first group of students to arrive in the summer of 1970. For 20 years, Margie and Roy took students to Fukuoka, as well as many adults. They hosted over 79 Japanese students from various parts of Japan with the Lions Student Exchange Program, as well as the Sister City Student Exchange Program. They also hosted many parents of the students who had visited Oakland. Margie and her late husband Roy were instrumental in fostering sister clubs between three Lions Clubs and the Soroptimist Club of Oakland, which is the founding Soroptimist Club in the world. In the Spring of 2002, Margie participated in the 40th Anniversary celebration in Fukuoka, which was her 22nd trip. Three of Margie’s children and nine of her grandchildren have participated in the OFSCA Student Exchange Program. In October 2005, 26 former Fukuoka Student exchange participants came to Oakland for the first Adult Exchange program, including former students who were in the first several exchange programs in 1970 and 1972, and honored Margie for her many years of service, gracious hostessing and active participation in this program.
1980 – 1982: Rev. Dr. Arnold Compton
Born in Leeds, England, Rev. Compton spent his early education in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned a B.A. from Western Reserve, an M.A. from the University of Chicago and a Doctorate of Theology from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. He came to Oakland in 1945 and later became the minister of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland. He authored a book entitled “Unitarianism on the Pacific Coast: The First Sixty Years.” He was a president of the Board of Trustees of the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, as well as a scoutmaster for 30 years. He died in September of 1998.
1982 – 1984: Noboru Nakamura
Noby was born in Japan on March 19, 1925, then came to the United States. From October 30 to December 8 of 1930, he lived in an immigration camp, Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay. He grew up on a farm in Reedley, California during the depression era. On December 7, 1941, his father was detained by the FBI and then spent time in a Fresno, California jail and then in New Mexico. After four years, he was paroled to Poston, III, Arizona internment camp where he joined his family. Noby's first job was as a dishwasher at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, and then he took a job as a busboy in Denver, Colorado. He applied for the Colorado School of Mines, “which was the wrong school for me at the time. They were very conservative, and they refused me.” Noby’s mother wrote to him and said: “Why not architecture?” since she was a draftswoman for her father, who was a master builder in Japan. That’s when Noby realized he needed to get his US citizenship. He was accepted into the Military Intelligence School at Camp Savage, Minnesota, and he then served in the Philippines and Tokyo, Japan. When he returned to the US, he attended UC Berkeley and graduated in 1950. He was an architect and found the profession very interesting and gratifying. During his presidency, he organized the Otsukimi moon viewing festivals, as well as the student exchanges. He also helped to coordinate the installation of the concrete Japanese lanterns at the Gardens at Lake Merritt.
1984 – 1986: Roy Arp
Born on February 22, 1917 and raised in Witten, South Dakota, Roy attended high school and two years of college before serving in the Navy for four years during World War II. Roy was a member of the Masonic Lodge, Past Maters Unit, Scottish Rite, Shriners, and was a past President of both the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club and the Alameda Lions Club. During his presidency, he formed the Lions Club Sister Clubs in Fukuoka and Oakland. His wife, Margie, helped to form a sister club in Fukuoka with her Oakland Soroptimist Club in 1974. Roy’s favorite hobby was woodworking.
1986 – 1990: Tony Yokomizo and Tomi Taniguchi
1990 – 1992: Tomi Taniguchi
Born in Los Angeles, Tomi grew up in L.A. and Salt Lake City, Utah. She attended junior college and later attended UCLA and St. Mary’s in Salt Lake. She was affiliated with the Meynell Club in Salt Lake and various teachers’ organizations in Oakland. Tomi got involved with OFSCA at the suggestion of a friend, in order to meet members of her Japanese ancestry in Oakland. During her tenure as President, Tomi went to Fukuoka to represent OFSCA. Tomi’s hobbies include gardening, travel, painting and cooking.
1992 – 1996: Roy Ikeda
Roy was born on May 19, 1943 in Topaz, Utah, in one of the ten concentration camps in which 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry and Japanese nationals were incarcerated during World War II. He grew up in San Francisco, attending Lowell High School and received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1965 from UC Berkeley and his law degree from Hastings College of the Law in 1974. Before attending law school, Roy worked as an engineer for General Electric and Fairchild Semiconductor. He practiced law for 33 years, specializing in real estate, international and business transactions and was a partner with Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May in Oakland and with Minami, Lew & Tamaki in San Francisco. He is currently a board member of the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, Kimochi, Inc., and the Tule Lake Committee, and he is a past board member of the English Center for International Women, the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, and the San Francisco and Oakland chapters of the Japanese American Citizens League. He helped to create and co-chaired (along with Becky Taylor) the Oakland Chamber of Commerce’s International Trade Committee in 1992. Roy’s term as president of the OFSCA was highlighted by the 30th anniversary celebrations in Oakland. During his term, he also received visitors from Fukuoka and attended functions in Fukuoka; participated in zoo, nurses and art exchanges, and was instrumental in reactivating the high school student exchange in the early 1990’s. He also enjoyed having Frank Ogawa as a mentor, and was a founding board member of the Frank Ogawa Foundation, which commissioned the sculpture of two busts of Frank Ogawa that are now on display in Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland and in Fukuoka. Roy is a member of a Hawaiian music ensemble, and his hobbies include jazz, travel, cooking, and going to the theater.
1996-2002: Paul Shimotake
Born January 29, 1963 in St. Joseph, Michigan. Paul grew up in Hinsdale, Illinois - a suburb just outside Chicago. After graduating from law school in 1989, Paul moved to Oakland to join the Okland law firm Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May. Paul's mentor at the Crosby law firm, Roy Ikeda (President 1992-1996), introduced Paul to the Association. Over the years, Paul has been very involved with the revival and restructure of the High School Student Exchange Program. During Paul's tenure as President, the Association continued many of the traditional activities such as the High School Student Exchange, Otsukimi (Moon Viewing) Festival, San Francisco Cherry Blossom Parade, and New Year's and Installation Dinners. New activities includd the establishment of the Ogawa Exchange Scholarship fund, Asian-Pacific Children's Convention in Fukuoka, Torii Gate reconstruction, Sister City display in City Hall, participation in the Ogawa Plaza and Ogawa Bust dedication in Oakland and Ogawa Bust dedication in Fukuoka in 1998, development of the Association website, and the 49th Anniversary celebrations in Oakland and Fukuoka in 2002.
2002 – 2004: Becky Taylor
Becky Taylor was born in Merced, CA moved to the Bay Area and attended high school at Alameda High. She worked for Oakland’s Mayor Lionel J. Wilson from 1978 – 1981 and became friends with Oakland City Councilmember Frank Ogawa and later co-chaired his re-election finance committees through four election cycles until his passing in 1994. In 1982 Becky became the principal of a recruiting firm, first specializing in law firm staffing and later worked for several major law firms, including Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, conducting searches for senior management and attorneys. As a board member of the Oakland Chamber, she traveled to Fukuoka for the first time in 1989 with Mayor Wilson, Councilmember Ogawa, Roy Ikeda and other members of the Oakland business community. In 1992, Becky, along with Roy Ikeda, created the International Trade Committee of the Oakland Chamber that grew to 100 business members. She co-chaired six annual black-tie Consular Corps dinners between 1993–1999. Becky was appointed by Mayor Elihu M. Harris as Oakland’s Chief of Protocol, a volunteer position, from 1994-1996. Mayor Harris appointed Becky to a four-year term on the Oakland Port Board of Commissioners from 1996-2000. As President of OFSCA in 2002, Becky helped to spearhead fundraising and the coordination of many activities during the three-day celebration of the 40th anniversary of OFSCA, during which time Oakland received 60 officials and guests from Fukuoka. Becky has hosted four high school students from Fukuoka as well as hosted home-stays for the Adult Exchange visits. Wearing her various hats, she has visited Fukuoka approximately nine times since 1989. Becky’s hobbies are music, travel, scuba diving, gardening, reading history, and she’s attempting to learn to play golf. For relaxation, she takes “family walks” with her dog, Sabrina and her cat, Bert (yes, the cat joins them).
2004 – 2006: Shawn Jackson
Shawn was born January 9, 1966 in Oakland where he lived until the age of seven. His family then moved to Bremerton, Washington briefly, before to Los Angeles, where he lived until the age of 18, when he returned to the Bay Area to attend Cal Berkeley. Shawn received his Bachelors of Arts degree in Social Science, U.C. Berkeley in 1989, and his Masters Degree in Public Administration, Cal State Hayward in 1993. Shawn has been affiliated with the following organizations and associations: Sister Cities International, Celebrate Oakland Committee, El Cerrito Human Relations Commission, Jubilee West Inc., California Alumni Association, Cal’s Young Alumni Council, JET (Japan Exchange Teaching) Program, American Red Cross, and the City of Berkeley Little League Baseball (sponsor). Shawn’s hobbies and interests include photography, poetry writing (two poems published), desktop publishing, weightlifting and planning multi-ethnic cultural fairs and events.
Shawn states that some of the highlights of his presidency were working on the Student Exchange Program and participating in cultural exchange trips to Fukuoka. Shawn initially wanted to get involved with OFSCA, “but chickened out when I went to a board meeting and did not see younger people my age and no African-Americans. After returning from Osaka on the JET Program, I decided to put my fear aside and attend a meeting to see what the group was about. It was a decision that has brought me wonderful experiences and friendships that I would have missed out on if I had not overcome my own issues.”
2006 - 2008 : Liane Higashiuchi Scott
Born on June 9, 1949 in Palo Alto, CA Liane Higashiuchi Scott grew up in Los Altos, CA. She graduated from Los Altos High School and UC Berkeley with a degree in Spanish. Both sets of her grandparents came from Saga, about an hour outside of Fukuoka. She worked part-time for Bank of America while attending college and full-time after graduation. Over her 10-year banking career, she worked in various departments throughout the bank, from Note Department / Foreign Exchange to Loan Officer in student, boat, aircraft and large truck loans and leasing. Since 1994, she has worked at Steinhorn Consulting, an actuarial consulting firm, where she currently serves as the Finance Director.
Liane became involved with the Oakland Fukuoka Sister City Association when her daughter, Megan, was selected to become a student ambassador to Fukuoka on the 1995 high school exchange program. Her son, Zachary, went to Fukuoka on the 2003 high school exchange program, and Megan served as one of the chaperones. Liane has been a Board member of OFSCA since 1995. She helped raise funds to build the Torii Gate at the Gardens at Lake Merritt to commemorate OFSCA’s 40th anniversary. Her other contributions include creating a new brochure, spearheading electronic communication with the membership and starting a grant writing campaign to help raise funds for both the Torii Gate landscape and student exchange programs. She also served as Oakland’s liaison for identifying a landscape designer, fundraising and building an Oakland-themed garden for the 2005 Greenery Fair held in Fukuoka. Liane is currently working with many of OFSCA’s members on the 50th anniversary, which will take place in 2012.
Using her connections in Fukuoka through her work with OFSCA, Liane started a spring high school student exchange program with College Prep High School (CPS) in Oakland and All Nippon Airways (ANA) that enables one student from the CPS Japanese language class to travel to Fukuoka for one week. ANA sponsors the airfare for that student. During her involvement with OFSCA, the Fukuoka Oakland Friendship Association (FOFA) was established in Fukuoka and includes adults who came to Oakland in the early 1970’s as high school exchange students. Both sides have experienced an adult exchange to each other’s cities.
Liane is a member of several other organizations, including: Garden Guild (served as President for four years during her 30-year membership), Community of Harbor Bay Cooking, and the Children’s Support League of the East Bay (one of the founding members and currently honored as a life-time member). This organization holds an annual kitchen and home tour, raffle & boutique where the proceeds benefit non-profit agencies in Alameda and Contra Costa counties that serve at-risk children. Liane’s hobbies and interests include gardening, cooking, reading and snorkeling.
2008 - 2010 – Michael Corbett
Michael was born on September 25, 1970 in Burbank, California and grew up in Los Angeles. Michael graduated with a B.A. in History from UCLA in 1994. He received a Paralegal Certificate at UCLA Extension in 1995 and got his M.U.P Urban Planning at San Jose State in 2001.
He has been affiliated with the following organizations: International Students Association at UCLA, UCLA African Student Union, UCLA Cultural Affairs(Commissioner), SJSU Urban Planning Coalition (President), JET Alumni Association, Peru Negro Cultural Association (Co- Founder), OFSCA and the Fruitvale Merchants Association. His hobbies/interests are reading, basketball, computers, studying languages and cultures and traveling.
Michael got involved with OFSCA when he found an ad in the Community section of the local newspaper after returning from Japan in 2001 from three years with the JET Programme. Michael says, “I had always been interested in going to Japan, since my third grade teacher told us how wonderful and nice the people were, and we did a course of study on Japan. I studied Japanese and became interested in the JET Programme.” Michael completed his Masters degree in Urban Planning on Japanese Suburban Planning in Saitama and Tokyo, and he still retains a strong interest in Japan. His daughter, Nina Corbett was born in Saitama. His son Michael Jr. was born in the Bay Area.
Michael states that the highlights during his presidency with OFSCA were:
High School Student Exchange – Being a chaperone was one of the highlights of his tenure, as he was able to combine his interests in students and Japanese culture in one program.
9/11 Concert – Provided an opportunity for OFSCA to renew its association with the other Sister Cities, as well as with Oakland City Hall during a time of transition in the Mayor’s office.
2009 Adult Exchange – Michael had the chance to go back to Japan with other OFSCA members and renew acquaintances and make new friends after a 5-year absence.
2010-2012: Liane Higashiuchi Scott
See Liane's bio in the 2006-2008 timeframe above.
2012-2014: Co-Presidents, Susan Svensson and Edwin Bantilan
Susan Svensson grew up in San Jose and graduated from Lynbrook High School, UC Santa Barbara (BA in English, and the University of Pacific (MA in Intercultural Relations). In addition, she obtained certification from UC Berkeley in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and an Adult Education Teaching Credential from San Jose State University. She has an extensive background in Learning and Development both as a facilitator of computer, business communication, and TESOL courses and as an instructional designer, designing courses in those topics and other work-related technical topics. Susan has taught English to business professionals in Malta and Brazil and to many visiting international students and professionals. In addition, Susan developed and managed a small international homestay business for over 17 years, working with local language schools, international programs, local hosts, and international agents.
Susan has been involved in international exchange programs ever since she was a high school exchange student to the Netherlands through Youth for Understanding (YFU). Through other international programs and language programs, she studied Spanish in Guadalajara and Oaxaca and has stayed in homestays in many other countries. Her involvement in international exchange programs, along with her own homestay organization where she placed hundreds of Japanese students in homestays, led to her involvement with OFSCA. Susan’s family joined OFSCA in the early 2000’s.
When asked to join the OFSCA Executive Board, Susan welcomed the opportunity and has served as Recording Secretary (5 years), Co-President (2 years), and subsequently 2nd Vice President. Susan has participated in many OFSCA activities (Otsukimi, Oakland Running Festival volunteer, 50th anniversary events, Cherry Blossom Parade, etc.) and her daughter participated as a student ambassador in the OFSCA/Fukuoka high school exchange program. In 2011, Susan was the chaperone for the high school exchange program. Her family has hosted many Japanese students through OFSCA and many international students and professionals through other international programs.
Edwin Bantilan was born and raised in Honolulu, HI. Moved to San Francisco at the age of 14, graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School and then attended City College of SF and San Francisco State University. While in college, decided to work for the US Postal Service. Stayed there for 42 years and am now retired.
Many thanks to Liane Scott for asking my family to host a Japanese student. Since then we hosted several students and my kids and I, as chaperone, have gone on the student exchanges to Fukuoka. Molly, my wife, enjoyed Fukuoka and Japan during the 50th anniversary. We have been so fortunate in making friends and relationships and enjoying the Japanese culture.
2014-2020: Edwin Bantilan
See Edwin's bio in the 2012-2014 timeframe above.
2021-present: Gary Tominaga
50th Anniversary Committee Chairs
2011-2012 Chair, 50th Anniversary Planning Committee: Becky Taylor
See Becky's bio in the 2002-2004 timeframe above.
2011-2012 Co-Chair, 50th Anniversary Planning Committee: Mark Morodomi
Mark’s family is originally from Fukuoka Prefecture, and his mother was raised in Fukuoka City. He has visited Fukuoka numerous times, the first time in 1965.
In January 2001, the City of Oakland’s first elected City Attorney, John A. Russo, appointed Mr. Morodomi as Supervising Deputy City Attorney. In that role, Mr. Morodomi supervises the deputy attorneys of the General Government and Finance Unit. His also advises the Mayor, City Administrator, and the City Council on many sensitive matters, including such topics as multi-million dollar tax policies.
Prior to joining the City Attorney, Mr. Morodomi was in Washington, D.C., serving as Policy Advisor for the Under Secretary of the Department of the Treasury. There, Mr. Morodomi worked on international law enforcement policy. Prior to his work in Washington, Mr. Morodomi was Acting Chief of Enforcement and Senior Enforcement Counsel of the State of California's Fair Political Practices Commission. In 1997, he traveled to La Paz, Bolivia, to advise the Bolivian government on campaign finance law.
As a volunteer, Mr. Morodomi has also used his legal skills on behalf of local communities. Through his work with the Asian Law Caucus, he provided free legal help to victims of the Loma Prieta earthquake and defended the constitutional rights of interned Japanese-Americans. He has been president of the Asian Bar Association of Sacramento, president of the Japanese American Citizens League, Florin Chapter, and a governor on the national board of the national Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association. He has also taught karate at the University of California, Davis. Mr. Morodomi is a graduate of the New York University School of Law and Stanford University.
60th Anniversary Committee Chairs
2021-22 Co-Chairs: Mark Frey and Jaclyn Funasaki