Irene Inouye, 71, Fund-Raising Champion of Japanese-Americans, Dies

Irene Inouye, 71, Fund-Raising Champion of Japanese-Americans, Dies


Irene Hirano Inouye, who set up the nation’s leading Japanese-American museum, in Los Angeles, and who, as a philanthropic leader, aided leverage hundreds of millions of pounds to raise Detroit out of individual bankruptcy in 2014, died on April 7 at her house in Los Angeles. She was 71.

Her death was declared by the U.S.-Japan Council, of which she was president. Her daughter, Jennifer Hirano, said the induce was leiomyosarcoma, a exceptional sort of most cancers that impacts muscle mass tissue.

The widow of Senator Daniel K. Inouye, the extensive-serving Hawaii Democrat who died in 2012, Ms. Inouye (pronounced in-NO-ay) was a 3rd-generation Japanese-American and a powerhouse fund-raiser for social and cultural brings about.

She declared in January that she would be retiring from the council, a Washington-primarily based nonprofit that she and Senator Inouye started out to improve personal relations between Japanese and Us residents.

In 2011, she co-founded an initiative that raised much more than $50 million from corporations in the two America and Japan to aid Japan get better from the earthquake and tsunami that killed virtually 20,000 people today.

In advance of signing up for the council, she was president and founding main government of the Japanese American National Museum. Through her 20-12 months tenure, she reworked it from a financial debt-ridden, grass-roots firm in an outdated warehouse in close proximity to Minor Tokyo in Los Angeles into a state-of-the-art museum. She led fund-boosting strategies that brought the museum $65 million over the a long time and 65,000 customers. It became an official affiliate of the Smithsonian Establishment.

Ms. Inouye oversaw various of the museum’s groundbreaking exhibitions. A single examined the Issei pioneers, the initial generation of Japanese-Americans. A different was called “America’s Concentration Camps: Remembering the Japanese American Working experience.”

Just after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the United States incarcerated extra than 120,000 Japanese-Americans. Neither of Ms. Inouye’s mothers and fathers was interned her mother had come to the United States after the war, and her father was a major in the Military. But Irene’s paternal grandfather and his 7 other little ones (her aunts and uncles) have been amongst the 8,000 Japanese-Americans held at Rowher, a “relocation center” in Arkansas.

Ms. Inouye often drew parallels among the discrimination confronted by Japanese-Individuals and that faced by other ethnic groups.

Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Japanese-American museum underneath her leadership arrived at out to Arab-Individuals in Michigan to assist ease the racial backlash in opposition to them. Specified the suspicion toward Japanese-Individuals soon after Pearl Harbor, she instructed The Honolulu Advertiser in 2008, she desired to reassure Arab-People in america that they had close friends who would stand by them.

She stepped down from the museum in 2008, when she married Senator Inouye, and they started the council.

She also chaired the boards of both of those the Kresge and Ford Foundations and played a important function in elevating dollars for an extraordinary deal that brought Detroit out of the major municipal personal bankruptcy in American historical past.

“Nowhere was her hand far more critical than as one of the mainly unacknowledged architects of the 2014 grand deal,” Rip Rapson, president and chief executive of the Kresge Foundation, and Elaine D. Rosen, chair of the Kresge board, stated in a joint statement soon after Ms. Inouye’s loss of life. It was among the to start with general public descriptions of her minimal publicized involvement.

Ms. Inouye shuttled in between the two foundations and leveraged their presents — $125 million from Ford and $100 million from Kresge — to develop, with other philanthropies, a $380 million fund, which in switch leveraged $400 million from the Condition of Michigan and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The rescue package deal safeguarded the pensions of Detroit city workers and prevented the institute’s valuable assortment of paintings from becoming bought.

Irene Ann Yasutake was born on Oct. 7, 1948, in Los Angeles. Her father, Michael S. Yasutake, was a important in the Army’s Military services Intelligence Services for the duration of Planet War II, then turned an intercontinental businessman. Her mom, Jean (Ogino) Yasutake, was a homemaker.

She grew up in Gardena, Calif., component of Los Angeles County. From a younger age she experienced a sense of social obligation, in one particular instance organizing her friends in junior superior university to raise money to get a wheelchair for a children’s orphanage.

She gained two degrees in general public administration from the University of Southern California, her bachelor’s in 1970 and her master’s in 1972. She put in many years included with civil rights and social projects, which includes supporting to empower low-revenue women of all ages.

This incorporated a 13-year job, beginning in 1975, as government director of T.H.E. Clinic (standing for To Enable Absolutely everyone), which sought to bring economical wellness treatment to uninsured females and family members.

In 1976, Gov. Jerry Brown named her chair of the California Commission on the Position of Women of all ages, the place she designed packages to finish what she termed the invisibility of Asian-American females.

She also fought to dispel what she mentioned was a myth that Asian-American women were being not weak and did not want overall health care, position training or kid care.



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