Steven J. Doi, Esq.
Steven J. Doi
a partner in the San Francisco law firm of Chan,
Doi & Leal, LLP and specializes in assisting Japanese companies
doing business in the United States. He has spent much of his life working to
promote better relations and cultural understanding between the
United States and Japan.
These efforts were
acknowledged by the Japanese government when they announced he
was one of the recipients of the Kunsho. He was
honored at a Tribute Dinner in San Francisco on August 25, 2000,
the Japanese-American community, the City of San Francisco, and
the State of California.
in Loomis, California (near Sacramento). As a teenager
during World War II, Steve experienced first-hand the height of
strained relations between the United States and
On February 19,
1942, two months after Japan's attack at Pearl Harbor, President
Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. As a
result, Steve and his family, along with approximately 120,000
people of Japanese descent, were forced to leave their home and
move to an internment camp by order of the U.S.
WWII came to an end, Steve took the opportunity to leave the camp.
didn't want to graduate from a concentration camp high
school. We were allowed to relocate into the
interior of the U.S. I moved to Chicago by myself
and, quite by accident, ended up enrolling in one of the
best public high schools in the country."
high school, Steve was drafted into the Army during the Korean
War, serving as a First Lieutenant in the Army Artillery.
Certainly this is one of life's ironies--forced to live in an
internment camp because of his Japanese heritage and then
serving in the U.S. Military as an American citizen.
was our country, and we (Japanese Americans) were
willing to die for it."
the end of the war, Steve moved to San Francisco, where he
earned degrees in management and accounting. He went on to
get his law degree. While practicing law, he also served
as an adjunct professor in San
Francisco State University's School of Behavioral and Social
Japan and the United States are on opposite ends of the
spectrum. Japan is very group-oriented, placing great
importance on cooperation and harmony. The United States,
on the other hand, values independence and individuality.
One area in which these two cultures differ dramatically is in
the approach to settling differences, handling negotiations and
U.S. and Japan are vastly different when it comes to
litigation. In Japanese culture, if you are sue
someone or someone sues you, it is very detrimental
because it shows you are not mature enough to settle
matters on your own. In the U.S. everything must
be put in writing. In Japan, much is done on the
basis of trust and relationships."
continues to work diligently in the community. He has served as
president or director of numerous organizations and says he will
continue to do so.
of the organizations that have benefited from his years of
service include: The Japan Society of Northern California,
The Japanese American Citizens League, the Japanese Chamber of
Commerce, the San Francisco-Osaka Sister City Association, the
International Farmers Aid Association, the Japanese American
National Library, and the Omote-Senke Domonkai (A Japanese Tea
Ceremony Society), to name just a few.
asked about being awarded the prestigious Kunsho, and his
plans for retirement, he said:
felt a little hesitant about accepting the award because
so many other people have contributed as much or more to
the community. At the same time, I am greatly
honored to be selected.
In this work, you are so
pumped full of adrenaline, I think I am going to do it until I drop. And,
most Asian people respect age, so there are certain
advantages to being the so-called 'elder statesman' in the community."