Ms. Kimiko Side, a former president of the Japan Association of Colorado (JAC), has been named a recipient of The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, an imperial decoration and high civilian honor of Japan.

The conferment of this decoration, which is awarded by the Emperor of Japan to individuals worldwide, recognizes lifetime achievement and a commitment to excellence, particularly including significant positive contributions to mutual understanding and friendship between the United States and Japan.

Her long service includes many years as an executive member of JAC (two years as president, seven years as vice president) , a board member of Japan America Society in Colorado for 17 years as well as a board member of the Japanese American Citizens League Mile-Hi Chapter for 20 years. During this service, she selflessly dedicated herself to the promotion of mutual understanding between our two countries and made large efforts to elevate the social status of Japanese Americans.

In addition, she has been actively contributing to the promotion of sister city relations between the cities of Denver and Takayama since 1962. Furthermore, she has volunteered and extended assistance at her own expense on numerous occasions for the aid and humanitarian protection of Japanese nationals.

In keeping with the high ideals represented by this imperial decoration, Side was designated as a recipient of this award. An imperial conferment ceremony was held in Japan.

The Consulate-General of Japan at Denver is honored to offer its sincere congratulations to Mrs. Side for this recognition of her long service. For more information, contact Mr. Shunsuke Ono at 303-534-1151 ext 5332.

An Interview with Kimiko Side

AAm: What does it mean to you to be recognized for this award?
Side: It’s a very high honor to receive the award from the Emperor of Japan. It was presented to me in Japan at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on November 9, 2012. The award was given to me for my efforts with the Japanese American Citizens League, service as a two-term president of The Japan Association of Colorado, contributions as chairperson of Denver Takayama Sister Cities for 18 years plus three proclamations from mayors of Denver as well as other civic organizations.

This recognition is a great honor The Order of Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays from the Japanese government. I am told from reliable sources that in the world only nineteen such awards were made to persons of Japanese citizens who converted to citizenship of their respective country. In my case, I was a Japanese citizen but became an American citizen. Something of this nature is more difficult in receiving an award of this type. I really feel honored to attain this award as it is recognition of my past efforts in cementing good citizenship and fostering a bridge relationship between the United States of America and Japan.

AAm: Why have you spent your lifetime serving others?
Side: We are put on this earth for a purpose. We are here to contribute to our fellow mankind to do the right and proper thing. As a good citizen, we must offer our time and services. The organizations I worked with in the past, strived to improve the positions for all its members and the general public. They always fought for that which is right and I always believed in this. There are times you have to take a stand and this has always been my convictions. I felt I had to contribute my effort whenever I was asked.

AAm: What has been your life’s biggest lesson?
Side: This covers a lot of territory. I would say my biggest lesson is that if you believe in something that is right, you fight for it. You stay with it and you don’t capitulate unless you believe you have been proven wrong. Otherwise, you stay with your beliefs.