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Son of late US Sen. Daniel Inouye visits ancestral grave during 1st trip to Japan

Ken Inouye, third from right, and his family visit Daniel Inouye's ancestral grave in Yame, Fukuoka Prefecture, on Oct. 25, 2022. (Mainichi/Junko Adachi)

YAME, Fukuoka -- The son and other family members of Daniel Inouye (1924-2012), the first U.S. senator of Japanese heritage, recently paid respects at an ancestral grave in this southwest Japan city during their first visit to the country.

    Inouye is a second-generation Japanese-American born in Honolulu, Hawaii. During World War II, he fought in Europe as a member of a Japanese-American unit and lost his right arm in combat. After the war, he served in the U.S. Senate for many years and devoted himself to elevating the status of Japanese Americans, as well as enhancing Japan-U.S. relations. Honolulu's international airport was named after him.

    Inouye's grandparents and father lived in the Joyomachi district of the city of Yame, Fukuoka Prefecture, before moving to Hawaii in 1899. The late politician's 50-year-old son Ken Inouye, and his wife Jessica, 50, visited Japan for the first time this year with their daughter Maggie, aged 12. On Oct. 25, before a bust of Inouye which was set up by the municipal government to commemorate his contributions, the family from Hawaii were welcomed by children of a local school singing in English. The family were also showed around the gravesite by Inouye's relative Kazue Inoue, 83.

    From right, Ken Inouye, his daughter Maggie, and wife Jessica, pose before a bust of Daniel Inouye in Yame, Fukuoka Prefecture, on Oct. 25, 2022. (Mainichi/Junko Adachi)

    The Inouye family moved to Hawaii in order to earn compensation money for a fire that is believed to have originated from their house. Appearing lost in thought, Ken commented, "They had to leave such a beautiful and quiet place because of a fire. I always wanted to visit here." Maggie said, "It's an honor to be able to view my roots."

    George Ariyoshi, former governor of Hawaii, and Ellison Onizuka (1946-1986), the first Japanese American astronaut who died aboard the space shuttle Challenger when it exploded shortly after its launch, also have roots in Fukuoka Prefecture. Their families visited Japan following Hawaii's donations of a copper relief plaque and other gifts commemorating their contributions.

    (Japanese original by Junko Adachi, Kurume Bureau)

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