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|3rd Governor of Hawaii|
October 17, 1973 – December 1, 1986
Acting: October 17, 1973 – December 2, 1974
|Preceded by||John A. Burns|
|Succeeded by||John Waihee|
|4th Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii|
December 2, 1970 – December 2, 1974
|Governor||John A. Burns|
|Preceded by||Thomas Gill|
|Succeeded by||Nelson Doi|
George Ryoichi Ariyoshi|
March 12, 1926
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
University of Hawaii, Manoa|
Michigan State University (BA)
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (JD)
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
George Ariyoshi (born as Ryoichi Ariyoshi (有吉 良一 Ariyoshi Ryoichi, born March 12, 1926)) is an American lawyer and politician who served as the third Governor of Hawaii from 1974 to 1986. A Democrat, he is Hawaii's longest-serving governor and the first American of Asian descent to serve as governor of a U.S. state. He assumed the governorship when John A. Burns was declared incapacitated in October of 1973 and was elected to a full term in 1974, becoming the first Asian-American to be elected governor of a U.S. state or territory. His lengthy tenure is a record likely to remain unbroken due to term limits enacted after he left office. Ariyoshi is now considered an elder statesman of the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi.
Born in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, to Japanese immigrant parents, Ariyoshi graduated in 1944 from McKinley High School. As World War II drew to a close, he served as an interpreter with the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Service in Japan. Upon returning stateside, he first attended the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, then transferred to Michigan State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949. He then went on to receive his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1952.
Ariyoshi's political career began in 1954 when he was elected to the Hawaii Territorial House of Representatives. He was later elected to the Hawaii Territorial Senate in 1958, then to the Hawaii State Senate in 1959. He served in the senate until 1970 when he ran for and was elected Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii in 1970 with Governor John A. Burns. When Governor Burns fell ill in October 1973, Ariyoshi assumed his constitutional role as acting governor.
In the election of 1974, Ariyoshi was elected governor in his own right, with Nelson Doi as his lieutenant governor. He was re-elected in 1978 with Jean King as lieutenant governor and in 1982 with John D. Waihee III as lieutenant governor. Ariyoshi's administration was marked by fiscal conservatism as the post-statehood economic boom came to an end. He guided the state through its first economic recession. His staff of 43 all had Japanese surnames, many were relatives. Barred by term limits from seeking another term in 1986, Ariyoshi was succeeded by Waihee. After leaving public office, he served in a variety of corporate and non-profit capacities.
In her book Washington Place: A First Lady's Story, Jean Ariyoshi credits former police officer Larry Mehau as becoming responsible for her family's safety. Mehau was also named "Neighbor Islands Coordinator" for her husband's campaign for governor. In the book she states that Mehau, although having a reputation as being honest and tough, was nicknamed in the press as "the Godfather". She does not mention why he was given this nickname, but the press did so because he was accused of having ties to the criminal underworld, many claiming that he was the top boss of organized crime in Hawai'i. According to Jean Ariyoshi, Mehau offered his help but told her husband: "I know I'm controversial, so don't put me up in front." Her husband responded: "I've known you for a long time and I've known you to be a good and honest person. What kind of friend would I be if I said 'I want your help but I don't want anyone to know you're helping me?' I'm not afraid to have people know of our friendship." In his own 200-page autobiography, With Obligation to All, George Ariyoshi does not mention Larry Mehau at all.
Ariyoshi has also served as president of the Hawaii Bar Association and served on the board of directors for First Hawaiian Bank, the Honolulu Gas Company and Hawaiian Insurance Guaranty Company. He also served on the board of governors at the East-West Center, based in Honolulu, an internationally-known education and research organization that was established by U.S. Congress. As governor, he is credited with revitalizing the organization, and joined the board when his term as governor ended. He served five terms as chairman, until he was not reappointed by Republican Governor Linda Lingle in 2003.
After his term as governor in 1987, Ariyoshi and his wife were stopped by U.S. Customs at the Honolulu International Airport because they failed to declare over $30,000.00 worth of jewelry after returning from a trip to Japan. The Ariyoshis paid $11,389.00 in fines. Former Gov. Ariyoshi resigned from the Board of Directors of First Hawaiian Bank to spare them "any embarrassment".
He is the oldest living former governor of Hawaii.
- John A. Burns: the man and his times - Dan Boylan, T. Michael Holmes - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Ariyoshi, Wife Detained in Dispute with Customs" (Honolulu Advertiser 05-28-87)
- (resigned from FHB to spare them "any embarrassment")(Honolulu Advertiser 06-19-87)
- (pays $11,389.00 fine)(Honolulu Advertiser 11-28-87)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to George Ariyoshi.|
- Honolulu Star Bulletin Article about Ariyoshi's Wife and her book, Washington Place: A First Lady's Story
- Honolulu Star Bulletin Editorial Column
- The Hawaiʻi Connection
- Donn Ariyoshi
- George Ariyoshi Tribute Site
- Portrait of Ariyoshi by Margaret Holland Sargent
- Appearances on C-SPAN
| Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii
John A. Burns
| Governor of Hawaii
|Party political offices|
John A. Burns
| Democratic nominee for Governor of Hawaii
1974, 1978, 1982