Museum Honoring Late U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye Opens in Father’s West Japan Hometown on Thursday

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yasumoto Matsuzaki looks at items on display at the Daniel Inouye Museum in Yame on Tuesday.

YAME, Fukuoka — A museum dedicated to Sen. Daniel Inouye, the first Japanese American member of the U.S. Congress, who devoted his career to promoting Japan-U.S. friendship, opened in Fukuoka Prefecture on Thursday.

The Daniel Inouye Museum is located in Yame City’s Joyo district, the hometown of Inouye’s father. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the statesman’s birth.

“I hope many people will come to know about his accomplishments, especially his dedication to strengthening ties between Japan and the United States, and about his roots in Yame,” said a municipal government official in charge of the museum.

Inouye (1924-2012) was born in Hawaii as a second-generation Japanese American. His father and paternal grandparents immigrated to Hawaii from the village of Yokoyama, which is present-day Joyo.

During World War II, Inouye volunteered for the U.S. Army. He was assigned to the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a unit of Japanese Americans. He lost his right arm in battle in Europe and was hailed as a hero for his bravery in action.

Courtesy of Yame municipal government
Daniel K. Inouye

In 1959, Inouye became the first Japanese American to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He later ran for the Senate and was elected nine times consecutively.

He was a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the highest U.S. military honor for valor, and other decorations. When he passed away in December 2012 at age 88, then U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement of condolence saying, “Tonight our country has lost a true American hero with the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye.”

The Honolulu International Airport in Hawaii was renamed the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in 2017.

The new museum is housed in a renovated building owned by the city and also has a cafe to facilitate tourism exchanges.

On display are about 20 items used by Inouye and donated by a Hawaiian organization honoring Inouye, including an aloha shirt and a U.S. military jacket. The museum also displays resources that convey his wide range of political and cultural accomplishments in Japan and the United States.

A ceremony was held on Tuesday in Yame to mark the completion of the museum. Among those in attendance were Yasumoto Matsuzaki, 73, one of Inouye’s relatives who lives in Joyo, and Chuka Asike, principal officer at the U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka City.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Dignitaries cut a tape during a ceremony to mark the completion of the museum.

Inouye made his first visit to Joyo in 1960, and Matsuzaki accompanied him to their ancestral grave. They met again in 1993. “I still remember that he was a large man and spoke softly,” Matsuzaki said.

He added: “He is the pride of our family. I hope that children who visit the museum will develop the same spirit of devotion to help people as Inouye.”