UH Med Now
Dr. Satoru Izutsu presented with Hawaiʻi United Okinawa Association Legacy Award for efforts in UH-Chubu Partnership
Pictured: Surrounded by family, Dr. Satoru Izutsu shows off the Legacy Award plaque bestowed upon him. Greg Yamamoto/HUOA photo.
After the devastation of World War II left Japan’s southernmost prefecture of Okinawa with only six surviving physicians— a partnership between the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) and Okinawa’s Chubu Hospital helped to turn around the poor state of health care that it was left in, through its MD training collaboration that has lasted for over 50 years.
For leading these efforts between the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) and Chubu Hospital, the Hawaiʻi United Okinawa Association (HUOA) honored Dr. Satoru Izutsu with its Legacy Award on Oct. 14, 2018 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. The HUOA Legacy Award was established in 2003 to recognize individuals, families or businesses who have made significant contributions to the Okinawan community, locally and globally.
Dr. Izutsu, now-retired vice dean and longtime admissions director at JABSOM, headed the UH-Chubu Postgraduate Program for the past three decades. The program is credited with greatly improving the quality and practice of medicine in Okinawa as well as its number of practicing physicians. A 2015 survey of Japan’s top 100 hospitals ranked Chubu Hospital as eighth best in the country. (Read more about the UH-Chubu program).
The HUOA Celebration
Rather than asking the award winners to speak, HUOA invites the honorees to select a performance that can be shared with the 400+ banquet attendees. Dr. Cedric Akau honored his lei-bedecked “Uncle Satoru” — his mother’s youngest brother — by performing two songs on the ʻukulele, “Ka Uluwehi o ke Kai” and “Aloha Kaua‘i,” a tribute to Dr. Izutsu’s home island while Dr. Akau’s wife, Sabrina and daughter, Kalei, danced hula. Dr. Melvin Chang accompanied Dr. Akau on the ʻukulele.
Many JABSOM ʻohana turned out to celebrate Dr. Izutu, including Dean Jerris Hedges, Dr. Alan Otsuki, Dr. Tom and Mi Kosasa, Elaine Evans and retired UH President Dr. Fujio and Amy Matsuda. Dr. Izutsu’s 103-year-old sister Jane Nakabayashi also attended to cheer on her younger brother, age 90.
In addition to Dr. Izutsu, seven others were also presented with the HUOA Legacy Award, including including former Gov. John Waiheʻe and former first lady Lynne (Kobashigawa) Waiheʻe; retired state Sen. Patsy (Miyahira) Young; the late Thomas Taro Higa, a WW2 veteran who served in Okinawa; and Okinawan dance instructors Lisa Nakasone Nakandakari, Keith Oshiro and Julia Okamura. Each honoree was also presented with certificates from Gov. David Ige and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.