Joe Michael Sasanuma Obituary

Joe Michael Sasanuma, who earlier today died at the eternal age of 18, never had a moment in which he didn’t enjoy life.

He lived by the words “What’s the point of living if you can’t feel alive?”, a line fittingly taken from the James Bond movie “The World is Not Enough”.  Of the many things Joe loved about life, watching and critiquing movies, with the James Bond series closest to his heart, was on his list of top ten.

Joe’s unique talent was having opinions and verbally expressing them, often with very little thought.  One-liner insults were his specialty.  Joe referred to actress Denise Richards, who co-starred in the aforementioned James Bond film, as “The bitch who ruined a perfectly fine James Bond film.”  Of Picasso, he said “I know shit when I see one.”  But Joe always kept the best lines for liberals, about whom he memorably declared “Everyone has the right to be wrong.”

 

A Lenten Reflection–To be More like Christ

But having faith and living it are two very different things. If action speak louder than words, as the old cliché goes, then my proclamation of faith is drowned out by my everyday behavior.

Regarding this shortfall, I am very much self-aware. Of all the challenges in my life, the living of faith is probably the one I find most difficult.

There are so many reasons this is so.

For one, I aspire to live a full life, filled with numerous things that occupy my time like friends, work, hobbies and curiosities. I’m constantly stimulated and rarely find a moment of boredom, but I confess, faith is not what mostly occupies my mind, heart and soul. I feel in touch with faith whenever I have moments to reflect, but those moments are few and far between. In the day in and day out, in the every moment of every hour, my faith takes a back seat.

My personality also doesn’t help.

 

2016 Was the Year of Changes

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Christmas Letter

If I were to pick one phrase to describe the past year, it would be “The Year of Changes.”

On the professional front, I left Shearman & Sterling in May after seven and a half years at the firm in order to join Amazon in Japan. The jump from being an experienced lawyer at a mega law firm to a first-time in-house lawyer at an IT company has brought major changes to my life, the most obvious manifestation of which is an improved work-life balance. On the personal front, I lost a family member when my grandmother died at the age of 92 in October, but I will soon have two family members living much closer to me as my mother and sister decided to move back to Japan after all the years living in the U.S.

As I look back on the eventful past year, I’m reminded of the old saying, “All good things must come to an end.”

 

The Amazingly Different Remarkableness of Japanese and Americans

The Japanese excel in order and discipline.

My favorite example to illustrate this is the shugaku ryokou, which is like a field trip for an entire grade over a couple nights at some exotic location like the historical city of Kyoto or Tokyo Disneyland. There, the students are divided up into small groups of four to five who are told to explore the locale without adult supervision and return to their lodging by a certain hour.

If you`re an American, there are so many things that are remarkable about the shugaku ryokou. For starters, it’s hard to imagine four American high school teenagers collectively having enough maturity to study the travel guide and coming up with a two-day plan to explore the city.

But what is really mind-blowing is that the shugaku ryoko occurs every year in middle and high schools across Japan without a single incident that makes newspaper headlines. This means that unsupervised teenagers roaming the streets for an entire day manage to avoid having a brush with the police and return in time for dinner.

This is unthinkable in the United States, where the thinking would go “of course teenagers are going to be reckless and irresponsible and expecting them to act any other way would defy common sense.” Any American school that lets something like a shugaku ryoko happen will be rightfully sued for negligence.

 

Reflections on My Time at Shearman & Sterling

After seven and a half years at the firm, this is my last week at Shearman & Sterling. It’s been an amazing run.

When I look back on my time at the firm, I realize how tremendously blessed I’ve been.

In the headline making deals that my friends and family recognized, I’ve been blessed with a sense of accomplishment.

In the nearly sixty matters I’ve worked on spanning Capital Markets, M&A, Asset Management and even Litigation, I’ve been blessed with the experience I’ve gained.

In the access to the firm’s global knowledge and vast resources, I’ve been blessed with the support system that made my job incalculably easier.

In the two luxury watches I never dreamed I’d be able to afford, I’ve been blessed financially.

But above all, I’ve been blessed with the people I’ve worked with.

 

A New Beginning

This Friday will be my last day at Shearman & Sterling. After seven and a half years, the time is right for me to move on.

When I reflect on my time at Shearman & Sterling, I realize how tremendously fortunate I have been.

I once heard that the average length of a career at a major law firm like Shearman is two and a half years. That may be a little too short, but if the actual length of service is anywhere near that, I’ve managed to beat the average by a couple years.

That’s all you need to know how happy I’ve been with the firm.

 

2015, a Busy Year with Moments of Reflection and Fun

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Christmas Letter

As I look back on the past year, which flew by even faster than usual, the biggest news for me was the retirement of The Honorable Peter E. Doyne, the Assignment Judge of the Bergen Vicinage of the Superior Court of New Jersey.

Judge Doyne was my first boss and mentor. I became his law clerk right out of law school, when I had little knowledge about the law and knew even less about working to earn a living. I learned how a model lawyer ought to look and behave in the year I was with him simply by observing. I owe much of who I am today to the judge.

 
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