Those We Lost in 2018

Following, in alphabetical order, are some of the notable individuals who passed away during the past year.



Joe Annello, 85, on Nov. 8. Korean War veteran known for his lifelong friendship with Medal of Honor recipient Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura after both were captured by Chinese forces. Their story is told in Vincent Okamoto’s “Forged in Fire.”

Jun Ashida, 88, on Oct. 20 in Tokyo. Renowned fashion designer whose creations included clothes for Japan’s imperial family and uniforms for Japan’s national teams at the Asian Games and the Olympics.

Robert Masao Baba, 100, on Jan. 4. An Army medic during WWII, he opened his dental practice in Whittier in 1957and specialized in dentistry for children until 1992. He allowed patients to pay as they could.

Glen Chin, 70, on Aug. 14 in Stockton. Actor who worked with East West Players and appeared in TV shows and movies, as well as Michael Jackson’s music video “Black or White.”


Yoshito Fujimoto, 100, on Nov. 6 in El Monte. A WWII and Korean War veteran, he was instrumental in the conclusion of the Pacific War by being the main translator of the surrrender documents signed by the Japanese in Tokyo Bay in 1945. He later worked as a cost accountant.

Nariko Fujisaki, 85, on Sept. 5 in San Diego.She owned and operated Fuji-San Restaurant and Fuji-San Nursery, was a talented seamstress and homemaker, and was an active member of Seicho-No-Ie.

Richard Fukuhara, 74, on Dec. 4 in Orange. Community leader, artist and photographer who founded Shadows for Peace to memorialize victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. President of Nanka Yamaguchi Kenjinkai and volunteer with many organizations, including Love to Nippon, Tanabata Festival and Los Angeles-Nagoya Sister City Affiliation.

Tadashi Goto, 85, on Nov. 8. He spent over 40 years in the aerospace industry, working on the Mercury, Apollo, and space shuttle programs at companies including TRW and Boeing.

Charles Oihe “Charlie” Hamasaki, 95, on Aug. 30. A leader of the Terminal Islanders group and a member of the planning committee for the Terminal Islanders Memorial Monument, he is also remembered for his testimony before the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians in 1981.

Shinobu Hashimoto, 100, on July 19 in Tokyo. A screenwriter who worked on a number of iconic Japanese films, including Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon,” “Seven Samurai,” “Ikiru” and “The Hidden Fortress.”

Terumi “Terrie” Hashimoto, 88, on Oct. 28. At Rohwer camp during WWI, she was a member of The Crusaders, who wrote letters of encouragement to soldiers of the 442nd RCT. She worked for Standard Homeopathic Co. for over 30 years.

Akira Tairyo Hata, 97, on March 27 in Panorama City. He served as a minister at Fresno Betsuin, Placer Buddhist Church and West Los Angeles Buddhist Church before his retirement in 1989.


Asaichi Shimidzu Hieshima, 98, on Jan. 10. As a trilingual family practice physician, he served his community with his skills as a doctor and his kindness and consideration as a friend and leader.

Mary Kinoshita Higashi, 96, on Dec. 9. She worked for the California Employment Development Department, was active in La Rambla Presbyterian Church an First Presbyterian Church of San Pedro, and was an active member of the Poston Community Alliance. She was featured in the documentary “Passing Poston” and was often invited to speak about her camp experiences.

Toshio Hirai, 34, on Nov. 15. A motorcycle officer with the Gardena Police Department, he joined the force in 2006 and was on the SWAT team. He was fatally injured in a collision with another vehicle in Harbor City.

Kengo Ihara, 87, on Aug. 31 in Pasadena. He served in the U.S. Army in Korea from 1955 to 1956 and was a member of the Southern California Gardeners Federation for 40 years utnil 2015.

Michiko Marlene Inouye, 92, on May 16 in Lakewood, Wash. She was active as a vocal coach and teacher to performing arts students in Palos Verdes and also directed the choir at Seicho No Ie.

Colette Isawa, 85, on Jan. 11. She worked in the medical field, assisting prominent physicians in the South Bay until her retirement in 2001. She was active in the South Bay JACL, serving on the Scholarship Committee.

Stone Ishimaru, 95, on Sept. 10. A teacher, media consultant and archival and historical coordinator for the Los Angeles Unified School District for 46 years. As a photographer since his incarceration at Poston during WWII, he shared his camp photo exhibit at public events throughout Southern California.

George Matsuichi Ito, 100, on Dec. 25, 2017 in Los Angeles. A member of the prewar Cougars baseball team of Boyle Heights, he was a member of VFW Post 9902 and worked for San Lorenzo Florist until he retired.

Sakae Ito, 85, on May 24 in Torrance. Also known as Hanayagi Wakana, a master Nihon buyo teacher, in Japan and L.A. She toured the world twice in the 1950s with the Azuma Kabuki Dance Company and taught at University of Toronto and Yale as well as privately for over 70 years. Wife of the late Jerry Ito, a well-known entertainer in Japan.


Rodney Kageyama, 77, on Dec. 9. A stage actor with Asian American Theater Company in San Francisco and East West Players in L.A., he had numerous screen credits, including “Gung Ho” (the film and TV series) and two “Karate Kid” movies. He organized and emceed countless events in the Little Tokyo community and was Shogun Santa during the holidays.

Hiromu Kaichi, 89, on Jan. 15. He worked in the aerospace industry for over 40 years and was the band leader of the Miyako Band and an active member of Seinan Judo Dojo Koenkai.

George T. Kaneshiro, 102, on May 29. A Korean War veteran who received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, he was a charter member of West L.A. Holiness Church and a leading member of the Venice Japanese community.

Mitsuru “Mits” Kataoka, 84, on May 24 in Pasadena. He joined the UCLA faculty in 1965 and mentored many students and faculty until retirement in 2001. He worked with businesses and government agencies to pioneer the use by non-experts of newly available communication technologies.