Government of Japan Honors Dr. Setsuko Matsunaga Nishi

The Asian American Federation’s founding board president and current board member, Setsuko Matsunaga Nishi, Ph.D, was conferred by the Japanese government, The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon for her outstanding and lifelong contributions to Japanese Americans. The conferment ceremony for Dr. Nishi took place on June 5, 2009 at the official residence of the Japanese Ambassador and Consul-General in New York.

During World War II, as a college student, Dr. Nishi played a major role in preparing communities and Japanese Americans in resettling after leaving incarceration camps. In addition to traveling the Middle West and giving over 350 speeches on public receptivity to the resettlement of Japanese Americans, she was active in establishing the Chicago Resettlers Committee which helped people from the camps rebuild their lives. From 1965 until her retirement in 1999, Dr. Nishi was professor of sociology and taught some of the first courses in Asian American Studies at Brooklyn College and The Graduate School, CUNY. In addition to playing a major role in the founding of the Asian American Federation in 1989, she was a board member of United Way of New York City, and was a consultant to the Congressionally mandated Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. Her career has combined research and teaching in academia with social policy applications in numerous professional consultantships, both public and private, and in volunteer community leadership.

Dr. Nishi is currently the principal investigator of the Japanese American Life Course Project, and professor emerita at the City University of New York. This prestigious award was in recognition of her tireless efforts in advocating the civil rights, sociological study, and well-being of Asian Americans throughout her career and continues into the present.