2020 Decoration Conferred on Ms. Irene Hirano Inouye

On May 19, 2020 (Japan Time), the Government of Japan announced the conferment of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon upon Ms. Irene Hirano Inouye, who passed away in April 2020. 
The conferment ceremony for Ms. Hirano Inouye was held on Thursday, October 7, 2021, at the Official Residence of the Consul General, with her daughter, Ms. Jennifer Hirano, accepting the decoration on her behalf. 
The late Irene Hirano Inouye worked tirelessly to strengthen and advance the relationship between Japanese Americans and Japan, and was instrumental in the founding and development of the U.S.-Japan Council. As President of the Council, she strengthened the bonds of the Japanese American community and relations between the Japanese American and Japanese communities, and actively expanded exchanges between Japan and the United States.      
From before the founding of the U.S.-Japan Council, Ms. Hirano Inouye played a central role in the Japanese American Leadership Delegation Program sponsored by the Government of Japan which began in 2000, participating in every delegation (except for 2019), as a group leader. Going beyond her role for close to 20 years as President & CEO of the Japanese American National Museum with its mission to promote the teaching of Japanese American history as an important part of U.S. history, she co-founded the U.S.-Japan Council in 2008 with Former U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye and other community leaders. The Council was established with a focused mission on the further strengthening of Japan-U.S. relations through Japanese Americans, to strengthen bilateral people-to-people relations and to further activate the participation of Japanese Americans in the bilateral relationship. Ms. Hirano Inouye was appointed as the Council’s Founding President.          
Because of the vast networks she built through two decades as President & CEO of the Japanese American National Museum, through establishment of the U.S.-Japan Council she was able to rally together Japanese American leaders in various sectors to advance U.S.-Japan relations, and through these efforts, platforms for the exchange and collaborations of stakeholders working in various fields in the two countries were formed.
Ms. Hirano Inouye used these platforms as a foundation, and through her strong leadership as President she worked closely with the Governments of Japan and the United States to initiate and develop exchange programs. Through her visionary leadership, the U.S.-Japan Council responded to the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake by forming the TOMODACHI Initiative, a public-private partnership in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Japan, supported by the Government of Japan. TOMODACHI invests in the next generation of leaders through educational and cultural exchanges and leadership programs, and close to 39,000 young leaders from Japan and the U.S. have participated in the program to date.
She also realized the participation of numerous prominent individuals from Japan and the U.S. in the annual conferences sponsored by the U.S.-Japan Council, including Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Former Foreign Minister Taro Kono, and Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, and promoted the foundation for the strengthening of expanded multigenerational exchanges between the two countries. Ms. Hirano Inouye also played prominent roles in advancing the role of women, serving as Chair of the State of California’s Commission on the Status of Women and participating in the Government of Japan’s World Assembly for Women (WAW!) Conferences in 2014-16. She also served on numerous prominent non-profit boards, including as Chair and Trustee of the Ford Foundation.