Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI-Senate)

Daniel K. Inouye Senator from Hawaii

Daniel K. Inouye Biography from Senate.gov

Biography of Daniel K. Inouye

  • Born Daniel Ken Inouye in Honolulu, Hawaii on September 7, 1924. Son of Hyotaro and Kame Inouye
  • Nisei, second generation Japanese American
  • Medal of Honor recipient; combat wounded veteran of WWII
  • Majority leader of the Territorial House of Representatives
  • Currently serving ninth consecutive term as U.S. Senator; President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate
  • Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations
  • Senior member of Commerce, Rules and Indian Affairs Committees

Daniel Ken Inouye was the eldest of four children born to Hyotaru and Kame Inouye, and Inouye often says about them, “They are my heroes.” Their quiet lives of hard work and integrity gave him the strength to pursue justice for all Americans, and the compassion to never forget that America’s promise of equality is for all people—regardless of how humble their roots.

In 1949, Inouye married Margaret Awamura. Then a professor at the University of Hawaii’s School of Education, Maggie stepped gracefully into the role of wife and mother. In 1964, she presented him with his first and only child, Daniel Ken Inouye, Junior. Their fifty-seven years of marriage ended when Margaret passed away from cancer.

In 2008, he married Irene Hirano, an established Los Angeles community leader. Their professional lives keep both of them busy, but Inouye feels blessed to have this beautiful, accomplished, and intelligent woman as his partner.


Soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japanese Americans and their parents in Washington, Oregon, and California were rounded up on 48 hours notice and forced to relocate into what were described as “concentration camps.” It should be noted that none of the people relocated were guilty of any crime, or even accused of having committed one.

However, many of their sons, a year later, volunteered to serve in the military, and, ironically, a few weeks after were declared to be “4C” by the Selective Services, the designation for “enemy aliens.” Dan Inouye was one such volunteer, and served in the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team—the most decorated army unit of its size in the history of America.

On June 21, 2000, Mr. Inouye was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor—the nation’s highest military award—for his service in World War II. His words that day speak for themselves:

I am deeply grateful to my nation for this extraordinary award. The making of a man involves many mentors. If I did well, much of the credit should go to my parents, grandparents and the gallant men of my platoon. This is their medal. I will receive it on their behalf.


As a high school student, Dan Inouye dreamed of becoming a doctor. The war changed these goals. When he was initially overlooked for the draft into the 442nd Regimental Combat Team because the Army wanted him to complete his medical studies, he immediately withdrew from them. Later, when he lost his right arm in Italian theater of war, he realized he would never become an orthopedic surgeon.

Still driven by the desire to improve the lives of others, and tempered by living the fight for freedom, Dan Inouye went back to school to pursue a law degree to prepare for a life in politics. In 1954, he won his first election to the Territorial House of Representatives.

Whether on the field of combat, or on the floor of the legislature, Dan Inouye has fought to preserve the civil liberties and equality of opportunity that define our American Democracy.

Biography from DAN10

Daniel K. Inouye, the most senior member of the U.S. Senate, has throughout his remarkable career made his mark on America and Hawaii, serving as a respected legislator able to work in a bipartisan fashion to enact impactful legislation. In January 1943, at the age of 18, he volunteered to serve in the United States Army. He was assigned to the legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team, an all-Japanese-American U.S. Army unit, and he was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for military valor.

Having witnessed the horrors of war firsthand, Dan Inouye has committed himself to doing everything within his power to prevent war. As Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, he has fortified national security and provided the best possible assistance to the American servicemen and women who risk their lives for our country every day.

Senator Inouye has vigorously championed the interests of Hawaii’s people. He has improved its citizens’ economic and educational prospects, strengthened its infrastructure, and protected and restored its natural resources, enhancing the overall quality of life for all in Hawaii. He has spearheaded efforts to enhance employment opportunities and placement, increase all citizens’ access to community healthcare, and stimulate small business growth across a diverse array of sectors. He has a special place in his heart and his agenda for the indigenous people of Hawaii – Native Hawaiians, and has supported many programs from their betterment.

A passionate and tireless advocate for the citizens of Hawaii, his impact on the state continues to be far-reaching. He brought bus service to Honolulu and the Neighbor Islands. Whether at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor or Schofield Barracks, he has helped create a steady flow of construction jobs that support an expanding military infrastructure. A proponent of diversifying Hawaii’s agricultural production, he has simultaneously helped stimulate economic activity and protect the islands’ delicate ecosystem. The senator has also helped develop a growing high technology sector in Hawaii with the Kauai and Maui High Technology Centers, the launch of the Maui supercomputer, and the critical testing and training importance of Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range Facility, as visible examples of his commitment. He continues to make significant investments in the University of Hawaii’s educational and research infrastructure to support their areas of excellence in astronomy and oceanography. Senator Inouye has supported conservation and acquisition of thousands of acres across the state to protect tropical habitats for Hawaii’s indigenous crow, the alala, the nene goose, and in the ocean, he has worked to preserve our coral reefs, sea turtles and monk seals.

Senator Inouye launched his political career in 1954, when he was elected to the Territorial House of Representatives. Immediately distinguishing himself as natural leader, his Democratic colleagues selected him as their Majority Leader. He was elected to the Territorial Senate four years later. When Hawaii became a state in 1959, Hawaii’s residents voted him their first Congressman, sending him back to Washington again in 1960. In 1962 he was elected to the U.S. Senate and has served eight consecutive terms.

In 1968, the Japanese American senator made history when he was invited to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention—where he was also under consideration to be Hubert Humphrey’s running mate in the presidential contest. After serving on the Watergate Committee in 1973, he became the first Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1976.

Senator Inouye served as Secretary of the Democratic Conference (elected by his Democratic colleagues to this leadership post), from January 1979 through 1988. As Chairman of the Iran-Contra Committee hearings in 1987, the senator was lauded for his unyielding integrity, even temperament and bipartisan leadership. He also chaired the Senate Democratic Central America Study Group convened to assess U.S. policy in the region, and served as Senior Counselor to the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America (also known as the Kissinger Commission).

Senator Inouye is the most senior member of the U.S. Senate and the second longest serving Senator in history. He was sworn in as President Pro-Tempore of the U.S. Senate on June 28, 2010. Senator Inouye is now third in line to the Presidency after the Vice-President and the Speaker of the House.

On May 24, 2008, Senator Inouye married Irene Hirano, President of the U.S.-Japan Council and former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. He was, for nearly 57 years, married to Margaret Awamura Inouye, a former instructor at the University of Hawaii, who passed away on March 13, 2006. He has a son, Ken Inouye, who is married to Jessica Carroll from Rochester, New York.

Do you know where you still on the political spectrum? See “Political Beliefs, Where Are You” to find out where you stand.

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