Interview
Part Two

 



Steven J. Doi, Esq.

  Steven J. Doi, Esq.


Steven J. Doi is 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, by the Japanese-American community, the City of San Francisco, and the State of California. 

Steve Doi was born 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 Japan.  

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. Government.   (Additional Information)

As WWII came to an end, Steve took the opportunity to leave the camp.  

"I 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."

After 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.  

"This was our country, and we (Japanese Americans) were willing to die for it."

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After 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 Sciences.

Culturally, 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 developing agreements.

"The 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."

Steve 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.  

Some 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.

When asked about being awarded the prestigious Kunsho, and his plans for retirement, he said:

"I 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."

   

Copyright    2000  Joyce Millet. All Rights Reserved.





    Part One 

 


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