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SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) posthumously honored Rose Matsui Ochi as the 2021 “Woman of the Year” for the 49th District during a Zoom ceremony held in the State Capitol. Her husband, Thomas Ochi, accepted the “Woman of the Year” commemorative resolution prior to the ceremony. Rose Ochi was an attorney, civil rights activist, political strategist and recognized icon in the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community who passed away on December 13, 2020 at the age of 81. The ceremony recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions to California, as part of Women’s History Month.
“I am recognizing Rose for her life’s work as an advocate for social justice and criminal justice reform,” said Assemblymember Ed Chau. “Her activism and advocacy was forged by the experience of being incarcerated along with 120,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II. We must remember her legacy and continue the fight against inequality in our pursuit towards greater justice for all.”
Rose Ochi was instrumental in declaring Manzanar Internment Camp as a National Historic Site. She also supported Japanese American Redress Legislation and was mentioned by President Reagan in his speech just before he signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Rose shattered numerous glass ceilings as the first API woman appointed to numerous national and local positions. This includes President’s Carter’s Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy, the Associate Director of the President Clinton’s National Drug Control Policy, Assistant U.S. Attorney General functioning as the Director Justice Community Relations Service, Los Angeles Police Commissioner and the first Director of the California Forensic Science Institute. After Rose retired in 2013 from public service, she and husband, Thomas, lived in Monterey Park.