Regarding the story “Obama says war gave way to friendship” in the Dec. 29 edition, President Barack Obama touched on Daniel Inouye in his speech at Pearl Harbor, saying that “it is here that we reflect on how war tests our most enduring values — how, even as Japanese-Americans were deprived of their own liberty during the war, one of the most decorated military units in the history of the United States was the 442nd Infantry Regiment. … In that 442nd served my friend and proud Hawaiian, Daniel Inouye.”
The son of Japanese immigrants, Inouye, after the Pearl Harbor attack, joined the Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team to fight against his parents’ country, Japan.
After returning home, losing his right arm fighting in Italy, he faced a real problem that a certain barbershop refused to cut his hair, saying that “You’re a Jap and we don’t cut Jap hair.”
Losing his right arm ended his dream of becoming a surgeon, and he began having a deep interest in building up the world based on freedom of opportunity and equality. He started his work as a lawyer first, and then he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1959 and was a senator from Hawaii from 1963 to 2012.
He fought for freedom and equality for Americans of Japanese ancestry. By 1979, Inouye, together with his fellow Japanese-American congressmen, called for a commission to study the wartime Japanese-American internment. Finally in 1988 the U.S. government formally apologized and provided compensation to those who were interned. He continued his utmost efforts to make America and the world better all his life.
I remember Inouye’s fervent speech in Tokyo on stressing the importance of a strong bridge of understanding and friendship between the two countries with love-filled hearts and eyes.
Obama said, “Wars can end,” in the same speech. We have to end the war of various forms of discrimination and prejudice.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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