Irene Hirano

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Irene Hirano Inouye
Irene Hirano.png
Born Irene Yasutake
(1948-10-07) October 7, 1948 (age 67)
Spouse(s) Daniel Inouye (2008-2012, his death)

Irene Hirano Inouye (neé Yasutake, born October 7, 1948) is the President of the U.S.-Japan Council, having been appointed to that position when the organization was formed in 2009. Hirano Inouye focuses on building positive relations between the United States and Japan. She is also Chair of the Ford Foundation Board of Trustees. She previously served as President and founding Chief Executive Officer of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles from 1988 to 2008, which is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.


Hirano started her work in the field of public administration as the Executive Director of the T.H.E. Clinic, a non-profit community health facility for low and moderate income women and families.[1] She worked at the clinic for thirteen years, during which time she discovered that there was a need for the public to understand the differences in the needs of people based on gender and cultural backgrounds.[2]

The governor of California selected Hirano in 1976 to become the chair of the California Commission on the Status of Women.[2] She worked throughout the state and found that often, "Asian American women were invisible."[2] In 1980, she helped organize the Asian Women's Network in Los Angeles and served as its first president.[2] In 1988, Hirano became the director and president of the Japanese American National Museum.[2] In 1994, she was appointed by President Clinton to the Committee on the Arts and Humanities.[3]

She currently serves as Chief Executive of the nonprofit organization: National Center for the Preservation of Democracy. Also, she is a member and Chair of the Ford Foundation board of trustees.[4] After her husband, Daniel Inouye died in 2012, Hirano took over as the president of the U.S.-Japan Council.[5]

Among the awards Hirano Inouye has received for her work include ones from the Anti-Defamation League, the League of Women Voters, the National Education Association, the University of Southern California Alumni Association, the Liberty Hill Foundation, the Arab American National Museum, the Asian American Federation, the Asian Justice Center, and the Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Hirano is a sansei, which means she is a third-generation Japanese-American, born on October 7, 1948 in Los Angeles.[6] Hirano was one of only three women in the University of Southern California's (USC) public administration program at the time; she received her bachelor of science in public administration in 1970.[2]

Hirano married United States Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii on May 24, 2008 in Los Angeles.[7] Hirano's daughter served as her maid of honor.[7] The couple spent their honeymoon in Carmel.[8]



  1. ^ a b "Irene Hirano". United States Senate. Archived from the original on 13 August 2009. Retrieved 18 May 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Moore 1995, p. 111.
  3. ^ Li, Tommy (9 October 1994). "Hirano Appointed to Presidential Panel". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 May 2016. 
  4. ^ "Irene Hirano Inouye to Chair Ford Foundation". Rafu Shimpo. 3 June 2010. Retrieved 18 May 2016. 
  5. ^ "Irene Hirano Inouye Talks U.S. Japan Council Annual Conference". Hawaii News Now. 5 September 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2016. 
  6. ^ Moore 1995, p. 110.
  7. ^ a b Creamer, Beverly (6 April 2008). "Hawaii's Inouye Looks Forward to Marriage". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 18 May 2016. 
  8. ^[dead link]


  • Moore, Nancy (1995). "Irene Yasutake Hirano". In Zia, Helen; Gall, Susan B. Notable Asian Americans. Gale Research, Inc. ISBN 9780810396234.