- Category : 1924-births
- Type : PM
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Consciousness 3
American politician, a Democratic senior Senator from Hawaii (1963-2012), and he was President pro tempore of the United States Senate (third in the presidential line of succession) from 2010 until his death, making him the highest-ranking Asian-American politician in U.S. history. Inouye was also the first Japanese American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Japanese American to serve in the U.S. Senate.
A hero in World War II, Inouye went into law and entered politics in 1954. He served as precinct president, county committeeman, county secretary, central committeeman and chairman of the territorial convention in 1958. A representative from 1959, he spent over 30 years in Congress, serving on the Watergate Committee and, most notably, Chairman of the Iran-Contra Committee, where he helped engineer a new procedure. Instead of Republicans and Democrats sitting on opposite sides of the room, they sat interspersed on the committee. The Committee also hired a non-partisan staff, and the House and Senate met jointly, holding only one set of hearings instead of two. The Committee was the target of much criticism, but Inouye, known for his quiet dignity, took it in stride. "I can't think of any activity we could have conceived that would have brought the Constitution in such force to the people of the United States."
The eldest son of a department store clerk and homemaker, Inouye grew up in Honolulu with two brothers and a sister. After graduation from high school in 1942, where he was elected to the National Honor Society, Inouye enlisted as a private in the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team, later known as "the most decorated army unit in history." In 1944 Inouye was commissioned as second lieutenant on the battlefield and one year later in the Po Valley, Italy, led his troops up a hill, destroying three German machine gun nests. Shot through the abdomen and leg, his right arm shattered by an exploded grenade, he insisted on continuing to direct the assault before he allowed himself to be evacuated. Upon his military discharge in 1947, Inouye had attained the rank of captain and was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.
Returning to Hawaii, Inouye enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Honolulu, majoring in government and economics. "I had always been interested in medicine, but the loss of my right arm caused me to go into the field of law; I had always been interested in politics. After earning his B.A. degree in 1950 he later attended George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., where he became a member of the Board of Editors of the Washington Law Review and received his J.D. degree in 1952.
Inouye started his own general law practice in Honolulu in 1954, but his prevailing interest was politics and his climb through the ranks was rapid. After being appointed assistant public prosecutor of Honolulu in 1953, he was elected to the territorial House of Representatives in 1954 and 1956 and served there as majority leader for four years. After winning a seat in the Senate in the following territorial election, he was the delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1956. During this period Inouye served in a succession of positions in the Democratic party.
After Hawaii was granted statehood in 1959, Inouye intended to run for the U.S. Senate, but withdrew from the race and instead became the Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives because "it would give some elder statesman in our party a clear field." He won Hawaii's seat in the House, and was sworn in on 24 August 1959. He was then assigned to the Banking and Currency Committee.
He died from respiratory complications on 17 December 2012 at age 88 at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Inouye was a posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Among other public structures, Honolulu International Airport has since been renamed Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in his honor.