Thursday, April 9, 2020

We are incredibly saddened to share the passing of our Board Chair and longtime supporter and friend, Ms. Irene Hirano Inouye on April 7th and wish to extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends during this difficult time.

Ms. Hirano Inouye generously dedicated her time and expertise as the founding Chair of the Terasaki Center Board of Advisors in 2012.  She worked together with the Center following the Great East Japan Earthquake to arrange various commemorative events including photo exhibitions held in L.A., Washington, and Chicago and a symposium entitled “Moving Forward: Life after the Great East Japan Earthquake.” She was instrumental in collaborating with the Japan Foundation to launch the Terasaki Center's New Visions of Japan event series in 2012. In 2017 she gave the keynote address honoring Dr. Terasaki’s legacy at the Center’s 25th anniversary gala. Ms. Hirano Inouye made a tremendous impact at UCLA helping the Center raise over $3 million in funding to support student, faculty, and community grants.

Her contributions not only to our Center but to the promotion of Japanese studies and Japan-U.S. relations as a whole have been immeasurable. At the time of her passing Ms. Hirano Inouye had been serving as the founding President of the U.S.-Japan Council since 2009, and prior to that she served as President and founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum for twenty years. She also administered the TOMODACHI Initiative, a public-private partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and the government of Japan that invests in young Japanese and Americans through educational and cultural exchanges and leadership programs. For a full list of her accomplishments and activities, we encourage you to visit the U.S.-Japan Council’s website and read their press release, as well as this wonderful New York Times article.

The Hirano Inouye family plans to share any plans for a future memorial service after the current COVID-19 crisis has abated. They have asked that, in lieu of flowers or cards, donations be made in Ms. Hirano Inouye’s name to the U.S.-Japan Council.
Ms. Hirano Inouye’s loss is deeply felt throughout all of UCLA, but in midst of mourning her passing we hope to remember and celebrate her many extraordinary contributions to U.S.-Japan relations and pay tribute to her incredible leadership.


Hitoshi Abe
UCLA Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies

This article was originally published on April 9, 2020, and updated on April 15.