The Passing of US Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii

Washington, D.C.- Today, United States Senator Daniel K. Inouye, World War II veteran, Medal of Honor recipient and Hawaii’s senior Senator, passed away at the age of 88 from respiratory complications.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye speaks at the Japanese Cultural Center, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

During his eight decades of public service, Inouye helped build and shape Hawaii. He began his career in public service at the age of 17 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He served with ‘E’ company of the 442 Regimental Combat Team, a group consisting entirely of Americans of Japanese ancestry. Inouye lost his arm charging a series of machine gun nests on a hill in San Terenzo, Italy on April 21, 1945. His actions during that battle earned him the Medal of Honor.

After receiving his law degree, Inouye, returned to Hawaii and worked as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu. He recognized the social and racial inequities of post-war Hawaii, and in 1954 was part of a Democratic revolution that took control of the Territorial Legislature. Following statehood in 1959, he was privileged to serve as Hawaii’s first Congressman and ran for the Senate in 1962 where he served for nearly nine consecutive terms.

Senator Inouye was always among the first to speak out against injustice whether interned Japanese Americans, Filipino World War II veterans, Native Americans and Native Hawaiians.

A prominent player on the national stage, Senator Inouye served as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Senate Commerce Committee and was the first Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

When asked in recent days how he wanted to be remembered, Dan said, very simply, “I represented the people of Hawaii and this nation honestly and to the best of my ability. I think I did OK.” His last words were, “Aloha.”

JACL mourns the passing of Senator Inouye and sends its deepest condolences to his family: his wife, Irene Hirano Inouye, his son Daniel Ken Inouye Jr., daughter-in-law Jessica, and granddaughter Maggie and step-daughter Jennifer Hirano.

“Senator Inouye has been an irreplacable voice for the Japanese American community and his contributions to the nation are incalculable. He loss has sent shockwaves throughout the community and he will be sorely missed,” says Executive Director Priscilla Ouchida.