Bruce Brenn Decorated by Japanese Emperor
* THIRSTER BRUCE BRENN DECORATED BY EMPEROR OF JAPAN
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Dear Thirsters Worldwide:
Thirster in Residence BRUCE BRENN has recently been decorated by the Emperor of Japan for his services on behalf of better relations between Japan and America.
I learned about this honor from the newspaper. Although Bruce is one of the seven original founding Thirsters and I see him frequently, he did not mention it. I persuaded him to send me the citation so that I could circulate it to his fellow Thirsters.
It is one thing to give a few speeches now and then, bask in the limelight, and take a lot of credit. It is another thing to work patiently, year by year, month by month, to build relationships, share understandings across cultural differences, marshal support when and where needed, and find resources that will make a difference – all the while letting others take the credit. This latter description fits Bruce. He is a truly modest man. It is an honor to be his friend.
The citation appears below.
BY THE JAPANESE CONSULATE, PORTLAND, OREGON:
November 3, 2009
Consulate General of Japan
MR. BRUCE M. BRENN RECEIVES EMPEROR’S DECORATION
On November 3, 2009, it was announced that His Majesty the Emperor of Japan has honored Mr. Bruce M. Brenn with The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with rosette, for his outstanding contributions to the promotion of education for the study of Japan, the deepening of understanding between Japan and the United States, and the development of the realm of sports in Japan. Mr. Brenn was born on September 13th, 1935 and is 74 years old.
For nearly his entire life Mr. Brenn has worked to foster understanding and friendship between Japan and the United States through his tireless efforts as a business leader and a liaison for cultural interaction between Japan and the Northwest.
For full details of Mr. Brenn’s contributions to the promotion of Japan-U.S. relations please see the attached curriculum vitae.
Bruce M. Brenn – born September 13th, 1935
• 1946 – As an eleven-year-old child Mr. Brenn’s family joins his father who is working at the Supreme Command of the Allied Powers headquarters in Tokyo.
• 1957 – As an undergraduate at the University of Oregon Mr. Brenn helps establish the first Japanese language class at the U of O.
• 1973-1982 – Mr. Brenn returns to Tokyo as a vice president of Citibank. After a short stint in Taiwan from 1975 to 1978, he again resumes duties as a vice president and senior banking officer in Tokyo from 1978 to 1982. While working at Citibank Mr. Brenn was instrumental in beginning a series of lectures and educational events for the wives of foreign executives working in Japan through the women’s association at the Tokyo American club. The lecture series continues to this day through the College Women’s Association in Tokyo.
• 1982-1985 – Mr. Brenn takes up duties as Vice Chairman and CEO of Nike Japan. During these years Mr. Brenn worked with his colleague and future governor of Oregon Neil Goldschmidt on a nascent plan to develop a Japanese language program in Portland public schools. Years later this idea would evolve into the Japanese Language Immersion Program at Richmond Elementary School.
• 1986-1988 – Mr. Brenn becomes senior vice president and group head of the Asia/Pacific of Continental Bank in Tokyo.
• 1989-1992 – Mr. Brenn serves as Far East director and senior representative at Smith New Court Plc., Tokyo.
• 1980s’ – Mr. Brenn begins his relationship with Portland State University as a lecturer on international business and banking. Upon returning to the U.S. in the 1990’s Mr. Brenn suggests that the university capitalize on its resident expertise on Japan to establish a Center for Japanese Studies at Portland State University. In 2000 the center is established and its scope and activities continue to expand until the present. Mr. Brenn currently serves as chairman of the center’s advisory board.
• Over the years Mr. Brenn has been a visiting lecturer at universities across the region, speaking on international business and cross-cultural interaction at such institutions as the University of Washington, Willamette University, the University of Oregon and Portland State University.
In addition to his significant accomplishments in the world of business and academics, Bruce Brenn has been active in numerous community organizations forwarding friendly relations between the United States and Japan. He has been a member of the Tokyo Lawn Tennis Club and the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, and chairman of both the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors of the American School in Japan. He has served on the General Affairs Committee and been chairman of the Membership Committee of the Tokyo American Club. Currently he is a member of the Japan-America Society of Oregon’s Board of Directors, chairman of the Portland State University Center for Japanese Studies Advisory Board, chairman of the Portland Japanese Garden Culture & Education Committee and a member of its Finance Committee.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead