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Dr. Satoru Izutsu receives “Order of the Rising Sun” from Japan government for leading UH aid to Okinawa

Date: January 18th, 2018 in Collaboration, Community Outreach, JABSOM News    Print or PDF

Dr. Izutsu receives the medal from Consul General Koichi Ito

Dr. Izutsu is presented the medal by Japan Consul General Koichi Ito. Deborah Manog photo.
By Tina Shelton JABSOM Communications Director

Dr. Satoru Izutsu, longtime Admissions Director and Vice Dean of the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) medical school, was presented a medal, “The Order of the Rising Sun,” by the government of Japan today.

The ceremony was held at the official residence of the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu.

Dr. Izutsu led efforts by the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) to assist Okinawa following World War Two. The island badly needed physicians, and the UH and the Chubu Hospital in Okinawa began an MD training collaboration that has lasted 50 years.

“Today there are over 130 staff physicians at the 500-bed Chubu Hospital of which 70% are graduates of the UH-Chubu program,” said Koichi Ito, Consul General of Japan.

Group photo with Dr. Izutsu, family and friends at the Consulate

Dr. Izutsu, family and friends at the Consulate on January 18, 2018.

Dr. Izutsu, 89, retired from UH in December after three decades of service. He is a native of Kauaʻi.

“I am grateful for this once in a lifetime opportunity to have been a part of this adventure,” said Dr. Izutsu. “On a personal note, I am sure that my deceased immigrant parents from Fukuoka … would feel humbled by this recognition of their last child, the seventh in the family.”

Friends of Dr. Izutsu attended the morning ceremony, and were led in a traditional toast by former UH President Fujio Matsuda. “Kampai!” he proclaimed, as the guests raised their glasses, too, and answered back, “Kampai!”

The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, is the third highest honor bestowed by the Japanese government, and the highest award that can be given to a non-citizen of Japan.

It is given in the name of the Emperor of Japan to those who have made distinguished achievements in international relations, promotion of Japanese culture, advancements in their field or development in the welfare or preservation of the environment.

See photos by Vina Cristobal and Deborah Manog:
Dr. Satoru Izutsu receives Order of the Rising Sun
Comments in full by Dean Jerris Hedges, MD, at the Satoru Izutsu “Rising Sun” ceremony:
“We are honored today to share this proud moment with Satoru Izutsu, PhD, emeritus professor of Public Health and Psychiatry at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

At the end of December 2017, Satoru Izutsu retired from his post as Vice Dean at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. This was not his first retirement and likely will not be his last.

Just as the “Order of the Rising Sun” signifies one with energy as powerful as the rising sun, Dr. Izutsu has given much to Hawaii, the University of Hawaiʻi, and the John A. Burns School of Medicine through his tireless service.

Council General Ito has shared information on Dr. Izutsu’s early academic and educational background.

At the University of Hawaiʻi as a faculty member in Public Health, Dr. Izutsu served on international health programs in Asia and the greater Pacific.

As a member of the School of Medicine he …
• Served as the executive director for a medical officer program in Pohnpei of the Federated States of Micronesia that trained medical officers for the US Pacific trust territories,
• Edited a monthly column highlighting academic developments at the medical school in the Hawaii Journal of Medicine & Public Health for more than 20 years,
• Oversaw the Global & International Health Programs for the school, including coordination of the 4th year international medical student exchange program and Chubu Hospital Program in Okinawa,
• Oversaw the Pacific Disabilities Center,
• Served as director of medical school admissions for over 20 years – personally interviewing more than 3,000 applicants,
• Served as the Board Chair for Kuikini Health Systems (one of the medical school’s key teaching hospitals), and
• Performed a myriad of other tasks, including coordination of department chair and associate dean searches, on behalf of the school.
• Dr. Izutsu has been a tireless worker and demonstrated discipline and strong organizational skills in every task he has undertaken.

Most importantly, Dr. Izutsu has mentored many students, faculty members and executives at UH. He has provided historical context, cultural guidance, and shared understandings that only those who have grown up in Hawaiʻi fully appreciate. On a personal level, he has provided me with lessons on humility, patience and wisdom. I am proud to consider Dr. Izutsu a friend, colleague and mentor.

“Although he was always quick to tell those we met that he worked for me. I was equally quick to say that I also worked for him … perhaps we all worked for Dr. Izutsu,” said Dr. Hedges.

“According to Wikipedia, “The Order of the Rising Sun” is awarded to those who have made distinguished achievements in the following fields: international relations, promotion of Japanese culture, advancements in their field, developments in welfare or preservation of the environment.

I can think of no other individual who has so ably met the expectations for this award.”

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Video: Program at UH Mānoa commemorates Okinawa-UH Health Education Partnership

Celebrating 50 years: UH-Okinawa MD Training Partnership

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