Following, in alphabetical order, are some of the notable individuals who passed away during the past year.
Rev. Hiroshi Abiko, 81. Served at San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin, Palo Alto Buddhist Temple, Buddhist Church of San Francisco, and Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple. He was also chair of BCA Ministers Association. Oct. 6.
Shinzo Abe, 67. Japan’s longest serving prime minister, he was also perhaps the most polarizing, complex politician in recent Japanese history. Fatally shot during a campaign speech. July 8.
Kenjiro Akune, 99. A veteran of the Military Intelligence Service who served as a translator for the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal and co-founded the Go For Broke National Education Center. Nov. 20.
Bruce Asakawa, 80. A gardening radio and television host based in San Diego, he was a landscape architect, nursery manager and author of several books. He helped establish the California Association of Nurseryman’s certification program. Jan. 27.
Chiz Nakaji Boyea, 101. A Terminal Islander, she started Manzanar’s library collection as an incarceree there and helped Nisei students find placement at East Coast colleges. She had a 25-year career at Long Beach Public Library. Nov. 21, 2021.
Jeffrey Paul Chan, 79. Co-founder of Asian American Studies Department at San Francisco State University and co-editor of “Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian American Writers,” which helped introduce Asian American literature as worthy of serious study. Jan. 11.
Roger Daniels, 95. Professor emeritus of history at University of Cincinnati, he researched and wrote books about the Japanese American experience, including “American Concentration Camps: A Documentary History of the Relocation and Incarceration of Japanese Americans, 1941-1945.” Dec. 9.
R. Thomas Decker, 84. Former executive vice president of Bank of America and former member of Japanese American National Museum’s Board of Trustees. Oct. 26.
Henry Fuhrmann, 65. A retired Los Angeles Times editor who was nationally renowned and a leader of the Asian American Journalists Association who advocated against referring to WWII concentration camps for Japanese Americans as “internment camps.” Sept. 14.
Kunio Hagio, 84. An artist known for his movie posters for “Raging Bull,” “Silence of the Lambs,” “Star Wars,” “Conan the Barbarian” and other films. He also did illustrations for major magazines and companies. May 8.
Mikko Haggott Henson, 85. In the 1970s, she helped establish a sister-city relationship between Torrance and Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture and founded the Torrance Sister City Association, becoming its first president. June 20.
Toshi Ichiyanagi, 89. An avant-garde pianist and composer who studied with John Cage and went on to lead Japan’s advances in experimental modern music. Oct. 7.
Kazuo Inamori, 90. Founder of Japanese ceramics and electronics maker Kyocera who also became a philanthropist singing the virtues of fairness and hard work. Aug. 24.
Antonio Inoki, 79. A popular Japanese professional wrestler and lawmaker who faced boxing great Muhammad Ali in a mixed martial arts match in 1976. Oct. 1.
Sharleen Inouye, 73. A long-time member of the Southern California singing group Asian Persuasion, which performs favorite songs from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. March 5.
Shintaro Ishihara, 89. A fiery nationalist politician remembered as Tokyo’s gaffe-prone governor who provoked a spat with China by calling for Japan’s purchase of disputed islands in the East China Seas. Feb. 1.
Toshiki Kaifu, 91. Japan’s prime minister for about two years from 1989, he was best known for sending the Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Persian Gulf in 1991 in the SDF’s first war-related overseas mission. Jan. 9.
Ken Kasamatsu, 75. He founded Pacific Commerce Bank to meet the needs of the Japanese American and Asian American communities, serving as its first president and chief executive officer. July 31.
Yuriko Kikuchi, 102. A dancer and choreographer best known for her work with Martha Graham, she was known professionally by just her first name. She also did solo concerts and Broadway shows, including “The King and I.” March 8.
John Korty, 85. Oscar-winning filmmaker who directed the 1976 made-for-TV movie “Farewell to Manzanar,” based on the book by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston. March 9.
Connor Kurahashi, 22. ASB student body president at West High School in Torrance and member of Junior YBA at Gardena Buddhist Church. Jan. 22.
Harry Low, 90. San Francisco’s first Asian American judge, a justice of the California Court of Appeal, and California’s 38th insurance commissioner. Dec. 9, 2021.
Jim Matsuoka, 86. Long-time social justice activist, and a founder of the National Coalition for Redress and Reparations (now known as Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress). Remembered for his testimony before the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. Oct. 22.
Bob McGrath, 90. An actor, musician and children’s author widely known for his portrayal of one of the first regular characters on “Sesame Street.” He was also a popular recording artist in Japan. Dec. 4.
James Miho, born 1933. A groundbreaking graphic designer and educational leader who established his own firm, James Miho Inc., and created the logo for the Japanese American National Museum. April 21.
Norman Mineta, 90. He broke racial barriers for Asian Americans serving as mayor of San Jose, a member of Congress and as commerce secretary, the first Asian American member of the Cabinet. He ordered commercial flights grounded after the 9/11 terror attacks as U.S. transportation secretary. May 3.
Issey Miyake, 84. He built one of Japan’s biggest fashion brands and was known for his boldly sculpted pleated pieces as well as former Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ black turtlenecks. Aug. 5.
Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, 97. A Medal of Honor recipient and former POW whose accomplishments during the Korean War made him a legendary figure, especially among Japanese Americans and in his hometown of Gallup, N.M. Nov. 29.
Hanae Mori, 96. A designer known for her elegant signature butterfly motifs, numerous cinema fashions and the wedding gown of Japan’s empress. Aug. 11.
James Murakami, 91. Art director and production designer who received an Emmy for “Deadwood,” an Oscar nomination for “Changeling” and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Art Directors Guild. Dec. 15.
Nichelle Nichols, 89. She broke barriers for Black women in Hollywood as Lt. Uhura on the original “Star Trek” and was the “best woman” at George and Brad Takei’s wedding ceremony at the Japanese American National Museum. July 30.
Franklin Odo, 83. A scholar, historian, activist and author known for his contributions to the field of Asian American studies, he served as director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Program and was the first Asian Pacific American curator at the Museum of American History. Sept. 28.
Robert Rusky, 78. A member of the legal team that reopened Fred Korematsu’s wartime Supreme Court case in the 1980s and an attorney who supported many Japanese American community causes. Nov. 22, 2021.
Yoichi Sai, 73. A film director known for his realistic depictions of the stories of Koreans living in Japan in “All Under the Moon” (1993) and “Blood and Bones” (2004). Nov. 27.
Robert (Bob) Yoshiharu Sakata, 96. A lifelong member of the agriculture industry and founder of Sakata Farms in Colorado. He helped lead a capital campaign to build the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism in Washington, D.C. June 7.
Haruo Shimada, 81. A professional magician who performed in prestigious venues around the world, was a headliner in Las Vegas, and made countless appearances on television, including “The Tonight Show.” April 30.
Yoko Shimada, 69. An actress best known in the U.S. for her portrayal of Mariko in the 1980 miniseries “Shōgun,” a role that earned her a Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination. July 25.
Fusa Takahashi, 94. Co-leader of the Stamp Our Story campaign, which after 15 years succeeded in persuading the U.S. Postal Service to issue a stamp honoring the Nisei soldiers of WWII. Jan. 16.
Kazuki Takahashi, 60. Japanese manga artist best known as the author of “Yu-Gi-Oh!,” published in Weekly Shōnen Jump (1996-2004). The manga spawned a popular trading card game of the same name, which holds the Guinness World Record for best-selling trading card game. July 4.
Kane Tanaka, 119. A Japanese woman who was certified as the world’s oldest person, she died in Fukuoka City on April 19.
José Taro Zorrilla Takeda, born in 1980. A noted Japanese Mexican artist who was featured in the JANM exhibition “Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo.”
Rev. Alfred Tsuyuki, 81. Head minister of Konko Church of Los Angeles, spiritual leader and active member of the community. Nov. 21.
Mary Adams Urashima, 62. As head of the Historic Wintersburg Preservation Task Force, she led efforts to preserve the history of Japanese Americans in Huntington Beach and Orange County. She also authored a book on the subject. Nov. 20.
Virgil Westdale, 104. During WWII he changed his name from Nishimura to Westdale and joined the Army Air Corps. He was transferred to the 442nd RCT and was part of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion when it liberated a subcamp of Dachau. Feb. 2.
Sylvia Wu, 106. Her famed Southern California restaurant drew Hollywood’s biggest stars for four decades. Sept. 19.
George Yamasaki Jr., 86. A Japantown community leader, attorney and San Francisco’s longest-serving city commissioner (social services/human services). Feb. 7.
Margaret “Peggy” York, 80. First woman to serve as LAPD deputy chief. Wife of retired Superior Court Judge Lance Ito. Oct. 17.
Don Young, 88. The Alaska congressman was the longest-serving Republican in the history of the U.S. House and a key supporter of redress legislation in the 1980s. March 18.