HomeBad Ass AsiansIrene Hirano Inouye, founding CEO of Japanese American National Museum and widow...

Irene Hirano Inouye, founding CEO of Japanese American National Museum and widow of Sen. Daniel Inouye, dies at 71

Irene Hirano Inouye (right) with (Mazie Hirono) accepts Presidential Medal of Freedon on behalf of her husband Daniel Inouye

The widow of the late US Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii died Tuesday at the age of 71 after a long illness, reports the Star Advertiser.

Irene Hirano Inouye served as president of the US-Japan council and worked as the founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles for 20 years beginning in 1999.

“Irene’s visionary leadership will be terribly missed, not only in the Asian Pacific Islander communities, but in American society as a whole,” Norman Mineta, the museum board chairman and former transportation secretary, said in a statement sent to Kyodo News.

Many considered Irene a key player in building stronger ties between the US and Japan.

“I know we are all devastated by this news,” said U.S.-Japan Council board Chairwoman Phyllis Campbell to the Star Advertiser. “Irene was a singular figure in U.S.-Japan relations, respected by leaders on both sides of the Pacific.”

She is survived by her daughter Jennifer; stepson, Ken Inouye; sister, Patti Yasutake; and brother-in-law, Michael Uno.

Plans for a memorial service will be announced after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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