Politics & Government

Sen. Karen Fraser among 10 Americans receiving cultural friendship commendations from Japan

State Sen. Karen Fraser of Thurston County is one of 10 Americans receiving the Japan Foreign Minister’s Commendation next month, and one of 108 individuals honored globally. Her efforts to promote “understanding and friendship” between the U.S. and Japan, including city to city relationships, were the basis of the award.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry’s statement says recipients will receive award certificates and commemorative gifts, including pure silk furoshiki, a traditional wrapping cloth, from Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

Fraser, a Democrat, chaired last year’s 50th anniversary host committee that welcomed Hyogo Prefecture Governor Toshizo Ido and his delegation to Olympia, Fraser noted in a news release. She was nominated by Consulate General Masahiro Omura in Seattle but is waiting to learn how the award is to be presented.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to receive this commendation from Foreign Minister Kishida and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Fraser said in the news release. “Our two countries share a very special bond. I am proud to see that through our state’s many sister-city organizations, the Washington-Hyogo Sister State relationship, and close cultural and economic ties between Washington state and Japan, we are able to strengthen that bond for generations to come.”

Fraser has a history of working with sister-city exchanges between Olympia and Kato City in Hyogo Prefecture going back to 1980. She serves in the 22nd Legislative District that includes Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and northern portions of the county. She chairs the Senate Democratic Caucus.


Former Gov. Christine Gregoire has been accepted as a resident fellow this fall at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. The Democrat, who served two terms as governor and three as attorney general, left office in January 2013. The fellows help develop and lead weekly study groups for students in the John F. Kennedy School of Government programs.