USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye and Sen. Daniel K. Inouye at APEC USA 2011 in Honolulu.

The U.S.-Japan Council has issued the following announcement.


You are invited to join family and friends for a special event, “Remembering Irene: A Memorial Tribute,” at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on April 28, and 9 a.m. JT on April 29. The virtual program will feature remembrances of Irene’s impact on and contributions to society through the countless lives she touched and the many causes she championed.

At the time of her passing one year ago, Irene was the president of the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC). She established USJC in 2009 with her late husband, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, and other prominent Japanese Americans to connect leaders and strengthen ties between the two countries. Recent observances of the tenth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake took note of Irene’s support for the Tohoku region, including USJC’s Tomodachi Initiative.

Irene also served for 20 years as the president and founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Los Angeles, and for 13 years as the executive director of T.H.E. Clinic, aimed at bringing affordable, quality healthcare to uninsured women in South Los Angeles.

In May 2020, the Government of Japan posthumously awarded Irene with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, recognizing her significant achievements promoting friendly relations and mutual understanding between Japan and the U.S., as well as sharing the history of Japanese Americans with people in both countries.

In addition to her distinguished career in public administration and leadership of USJC and JANM, Irene was active in dozens of professional and community activities. She served on the boards of many prominent philanthropic, cultural and academic organizations, including the Daniel K. Inouye Institute; the Ford Foundation; the Japan House Los Angeles Foundation; the Kresge Foundation; the Smithsonian Institution Asian Pacific American Center; the Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, UCLA; the American Association of Museums; the California Commission on the Status of Women; and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

In 2016, the USC Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy (CPPP) launched the Irene Hirano Inouye Philanthropic Leadership Fund to support research and programs to explore foundation leadership as it solves society’s most pressing problems.

Registration is required for “Remembering Irene: A Memorial Tribute.” To sign up, please click here:

Japanese interpretation will be available, and all participants will be able to leave written comments for the family at the end of the program. Please note that the event will not be archived for later viewing.

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