Jump to content

Daniel Akaka

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Daniel Akaka
Official portrait, 2006
United States Senator
from Hawaii
In office
May 16, 1990 – January 3, 2013
Preceded bySpark Matsunaga
Succeeded byMazie Hirono
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1977 – May 16, 1990
Preceded byPatsy Mink
Succeeded byPatsy Mink
Personal details
Daniel Kahikina Akaka

(1924-09-11)September 11, 1924
Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii
DiedApril 6, 2018(2018-04-06) (aged 93)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
Resting placeNational Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseMary Chong
Children5, including Alan
RelativesAbraham Akaka (brother)
EducationUniversity of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (BEd, MEd)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Years of service1945–1947[1]
Rank Corporal[1]
UnitUnited States Army Corps of Engineers
Battles/warsWorld War II
Daniel Akaka

Daniel Kahikina Akaka (/əˈkɑːkə/;[2] September 11, 1924 – April 6, 2018) was an American educator and politician who served as a United States Senator from Hawaii from 1990 to 2013. A member of the Democratic Party.

Born in Honolulu, he served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during World War II. He attended the University of Hawaii, where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees. Originally a high school teacher, Akaka went on to serve as a principal for six years. In 1969, the Department of Education hired him as a chief program planner. In the 1970s, he served in various governmental positions.

Akaka was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1976 to represent Hawaii's 2nd congressional district; he served for 13 years. In 1990, he was appointed to the U.S. Senate to succeed the deceased Spark Matsunaga, subsequently winning the special election to complete Matsunaga's term. He would later be reelected to three full terms. In March 2011, he announced he would not run for reelection in 2012.[3]

After fellow U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye died on December 17, 2012, Akaka became the state's senior senator for 2 weeks until he left office on January 3, 2013. He was succeeded by fellow Democrat Mazie Hirono.[4]

Early life, family, and education

Senator Akaka and his wife, Millie Akaka

Daniel Kahikina Akaka was born in Honolulu, the son of Annie (née Kahoa) and Kahikina Akaka. His paternal grandfather was born in Swatow, Chaoshan, China, and his other grandparents were of Native Hawaiian descent.[5][6] His brother was Rev. Abraham Akaka.[7]

Akaka described Hawaiian as his "native tongue".[8]

Akaka graduated from Kamehameha Schools in 1942. During World War II he served in the United States Army Corps of Engineers, including service on Saipan and Tinian. He served from 1945 to 1947.[1] He worked as a welder and a mechanic and in 1948 was a first mate on the schooner Morning Star.[9]

Akaka married Mary Mildred "Millie" Chong on May 22, 1948. The Akakas had five children.[10]

Entering college (funded by the G.I. Bill), Akaka earned a Bachelor of Education in 1952 from the University of Hawaii. He later received a Master of Education from the same school in 1966.[11]

Early career


Akaka worked as a high school teacher in Honolulu from 1953 until 1960, when he was hired as a vice principal.[11] In 1963, he became head principal.[9]

In 1969, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare hired Akaka as a chief program planner. Akaka then continued working in government, holding positions as director of the Hawaii Office of Economic Opportunity, human resources assistant for Governor George Ariyoshi and director of the Progressive Neighborhoods Program.[12][13]

U.S. House of Representatives

Akaka in 1977, during his first term in Congress

Akaka was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1976 to represent Hawaii's 2nd congressional district, comprising all of the state outside the inner ring of Honolulu.[14] He was reelected seven times, all by wide margins: apart from the 1986, when he obtained the 76%, he always had been reelected with more than 80. [citation needed]

U.S. Senate (1990-2013)



Akaka at a Senate youth program

Akaka was appointed by Governor John Waihee to the U.S. Senate in April 1990 to serve temporarily after the death of Senator Spark Matsunaga.[15] In November of the same year, he was elected to complete the remaining four years of Matsunaga's unexpired term, defeating U.S. Representative Pat Saiki with 53% of the vote. He was reelected in 1994 for a full six-year term with over 70% of the vote. He was reelected almost as easily in 2000.[16]

For the 2006 election, he overcame a strong primary challenge from U.S. Representative Ed Case,[17] then won a third full term with 61 percent of the vote, defeating Cynthia Thielen.[18]



During his Senate tenure, Akaka served as the Chair of the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.[18]

In 1996, Akaka sponsored legislation that led to nearly two-dozen Medals of Honor being belatedly awarded to Asian-American soldiers in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion.[19] He also passed legislation compensating Philippine Scouts who were refused veterans benefits.[19]

From 2000 until his retirement from the Senate in 2013, Akaka sponsored legislation, known as the Akaka Bill, to afford sovereignty to Native Hawaiians. In 2005, Akaka acknowledged in an interview with NPR that the Akaka Bill could eventually result in outright independence.[20]

The Akaka Bill has been supported as a means of restoring Hawaiian self-determination lost with the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii,[21] and would include giving up the ability to sue for sovereignty in federal courts in exchange for recognition by the federal government (but would not block sovereignty claims made under international law.)[22] The bill has been criticized as discriminating on the basis on ethnic origin in that only Native Hawaiians would be permitted to participate in the governing entity that the bill would establish.[23]

In October 2002, Akaka voted against authorizing the use of military force against Iraq.[24][25]

In April 2006, he was selected by Time as one of America's Five Worst Senators. The article criticized him for mainly authoring minor legislation, calling him "master of the minor resolution and the bill that dies in committee".[26]

In February 2009, a bill was authored in the Philippine House of Representatives by Rep. Antonio Diaz seeking to confer honorary Filipino citizenship on Akaka, Senators Daniel Inouye and Ted Stevens and Representative Bob Filner, for their role in securing the passage of benefits for Filipino World War II veterans.[27]

On March 2, 2011, Akaka announced he would not be running for re-election in the 2012 U.S. Senate elections.[3] The 88-year-old Akaka attended his final session in the Senate on December 12, 2012. He closed his speech with a traditional Hawaiian farewell, "a hui hou" (until we meet again).[28]

Committee assignments

Akaka with then U.S. Senator Barack Obama in 2005

Caucus memberships

Akaka and President George W. Bush in 2006



Akaka died of organ failure in the early hours of April 6, 2018, at the age of 93.[10] Former president Barack Obama remembered Akaka as "a tireless advocate for working people, veterans, native Hawaiian rights, and the people of Hawaii. .. He embodied the aloha spirit with compassion and care."[29]

Electoral history

United States Senate special election, 1990: Hawaii
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Daniel Akaka 188,901 53.72
Republican Pat Saiki 155,978 44.35
Libertarian Ken Schoolland 6,788 1.93
Majority 32,923 9.36
Turnout 351,666
United States Senate election, 1994: Hawaii[30]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Daniel Akaka (inc.) 256,189 71.8%
Republican Maria Hustace 86,320 24.2%
Libertarian Richard Rowland 14,393 4.0%
Democratic hold Swing
United States Senate election, 2000: Hawaii[31]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Daniel Akaka (inc.) 251,215 77.7%
Republican John Carroll 84,701 24.5%
Natural Law Lauri A. Clegg 4,220 1.2%
Libertarian Lloyd Jeffrey Mallan 3,127 0.9%
Constitution David Porter 2,360 0.7%
United States Senate Democratic primary election, 2006: Hawaii
Candidate Votes[32] Percentage
Daniel Akaka 129,158 54.2%
Ed Case 107,163 45.0%
United States Senate election, 2006: Hawaii
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Daniel Akaka (inc.) 210,330 61.4 −11.5
Republican Cynthia Thielen 126,097 36.8 +12.3
Libertarian Lloyd Mallan 6,415 1.9 +1.0
Majority 84,233 24.6
Turnout 342,842
Democratic hold Swing

See also



  1. ^ a b c "Once a Soldier... Always a Soldier" (PDF). Legislative Agenda. Association of the United States Army. 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 21, 2013. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
  2. ^ AP pronunciation guide
  3. ^ a b DePledge, Derrick (March 3, 2011). "The right time". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Archived from the original on November 6, 2015. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
  4. ^ Nick Grube (April 6, 2018). "Former US Sen. Daniel Akaka Dead At 93". Civil Beat. Honolulu, HI.
  5. ^ Genealogy Archived August 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine from ancestry.com
  6. ^ "NewsLibrary.com - newspaper archive, clipping service - newspapers and other news sources". Nl.newsbank.com. October 5, 2004. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  7. ^ John T. McQuiston (September 17, 1997). "Abraham Akaka, 80, Hawaii Clergyman, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  8. ^ Zotigh, Dennis. ""The Spirit of Aloha Means Nothing Unless We Share It"—Senator Daniel Akaka (1924–2018)". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved August 10, 2022.
  9. ^ a b "Akaka in Congress since 1976 | The Honolulu Advertiser | Hawaii's Newspaper". The Honolulu Advertiser. January 20, 2006. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  10. ^ a b HNN Staff (April 6, 2018). "Former US Sen. Akaka, the 'ambassador of aloha,' dies at 93 - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL". Hawaii News Now. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Ruymar, Lorene (1996). The Hawaiian Steel Guitar and its Great Hawaiian Musicians. Anaheim Hills, California: Centerstream Publishing. p. 82. ISBN 1-57424-021-8.
  12. ^ Brown, Emma. "Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii senator with 'spirit of aloha,' dies at 93". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  13. ^ The Associated Press (April 6, 2018). "Daniel Akaka, longtime Hawaii senator, dead at 93". Mercurynews.com. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  14. ^ Killough, Ashley (September 1, 2015). "Former Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka dies at 93 - CNNPolitics". Cnn.com. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  15. ^ "Hawaii Congressman Named To Matsunaga's Senate Seat". The New York Times. AP. April 30, 1990. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  16. ^ "John Carroll: Faith shaped a winding journey | The Honolulu Advertiser | Hawaii's Newspaper". The Honolulu Advertiser. September 9, 2002. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  17. ^ "Hawaii's Akaka defeats Case for Senate - politics". NBC News. September 24, 2006. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Daniel Akaka, Long-Serving Hawaii Senator, Dead at 93". Rollcall.com. April 6, 2018. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Clymer, Adam (April 7, 2018). "Daniel Akaka, Former Democratic Senator From Hawaii, Dies at 93". The New York Times. p. B7. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  20. ^ Kaste, Martin (August 16, 2005). "Native Hawaiians Seek Self Rule". NPR.org. NPR. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
  21. ^ Reyes, B.J. (January 22, 2008). "Obama would sign Akaka Bill as president". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
  22. ^ Carlson, Ragnar (August 19, 2009). "Nationhood". Honolulu Weekly. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
  23. ^ Camire, Dennis (June 9, 2006). "After bill fails, Akaka vows to try again". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved March 3, 2011.
  24. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Senate.gov. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  25. ^ "Senate Roll Call". The New York Times. October 11, 2002. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  26. ^ Calabresi, Massimo; Bacon, Perry Jr. (April 24, 2006). "Daniel Akaka: Master of the Minor". Time. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Archived from the original on May 15, 2006. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  27. ^ Salaverria, Leila (February 24, 2009). "4 US solons as honorary Filipinos". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Archived from the original on February 27, 2009. Retrieved March 20, 2009.
  28. ^ "Sen. Daniel Akaka says 'a hui hou' to Congress". KHON-TV. December 12, 2012. Archived from the original on January 27, 2013.
  29. ^ HNN Staff (April 6, 2018). "Obama: Akaka loved Hawaii's people (who loved him right back)". Hawaii News Now. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  30. ^ "Office of Elections" (PDF). Hawaii.gov. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  31. ^ "2000 ELECTION STATISTICS". Clerk.house.gov. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  32. ^ "Primary Election 2006 - State of Hawaii - Statewide" (PDF). Hawaii.gov. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Hawaii
(Class 1)

1990, 1994, 2000, 2006
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Hawaii
Served alongside: Dan Inouye, Brian Schatz
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee
Succeeded by