Chris Komai - - 213-830-5648


National Museum to Recognize Major Donors to Pavilion, Built in 1999, on April 25

The Japanese American National Museum will recognize its former President and Chief Executive Officer Irene Y, Hirano for her 20 years as the organization’s leader at its 2009 Annual Gala Dinner, "The Pavilion: Home, Community, History—Celebrating Ten Years of Building a Legacy", on Saturday, April 25, beginning with a silent auction and reception at 5:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. Over 1,000 patrons are expected.

The gala dinner, the largest fundraising event for the National Museum annually, has two Signature Sponsors: Dr. Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki, and Union Bank/Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. Mr. Masaaki Tanaka, President and Chief Executive Officer of Union Bank/BTMU, is the Dinner Chairman. All proceeds raised through the dinner support the Museum’s outstanding educational programs and resources, new curricula, teacher training, and educational outreach locally, nationally, and internationally.

Hirano first became Executive Director of the National Museum in 1988, three years after its founding in 1985. In her 20 years, she guided the institution as it renovated a former Buddhist temple building into its first headquarters in 1992; constructed its modern Pavilion, which opened in 1999; traveled exhibitions nationally and internationally; and oversaw collaborations with educators to ensure the Japanese American story was being taught in schools across the country. In 2008, she married United States Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawai`i and became Executive Advisor to the National Museum. Akemi Kikumura Yano was named President and CEO of the institution.

The National Museum’s 2009 Gala Annual Dinner will also bring recognition to those major donors who helped to build the Pavilion by permanently affixing their family names to the public spaces, and how their contributions have impacted a million Museum visitors since 1999, especially the thousands of K-12 students. School tours are led by the very individuals who lived through key moments in Nikkei history. Those scheduled to be recognized include:

George and Sakaye Aratani; Manabi and Sumi Hirasaki; Dr. Toshio and Chizuko Inahara; Siegfred "Sig" Kagawa; Koichi and Toyo Nerio; Reiso and Shizuka Miyamoto; George Takei; Dr. Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki; Taul and Sachiko Watanabe; Frank H. Watase; Shoan and Shizuko Yamauchi; and Takeo and Miyoko Yuki.

"These donors were crucial in the development and building of the National Museum’s Pavilion," explained Kikumura Yano. "More importantly, they have set a high standard of philanthropy for our community, always donating to worthwhile causes. The National Museum is very fortunate to have such supporters."

This year’s dinner theme celebrates a decade of projects since the Pavilion opening—including over 40 arts, cultural, and history exhibitions, hundreds of thought-provoking public programs, engaging family festivals, concerts, and other special events—by recognizing the major donors and many others who made it possible. Under Hirano’s leadership, the National Museum received donations from thousands of individuals to construct and open the Pavilion. In the 10 years since the Pavilion opening, the National Museum has also collaborated with Japanese government agencies on enhancing relations between Japanese Americans and Japan. It also expanded its Historic Building, and created the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy.

"The Japanese American National Museum is grateful for all Irene Hirano has done for our institution," said Ernest Y. Doizaki, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the National Museum. "Having the opportunity to recognize her contributions at our annual gala dinner will make this a very special event. Given her full schedule since she married Senator Inouye, we know the time to recognize her career is this year."

Presenting Sponsor for the 2009 Annual Gala Dinner is Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. who also generously donated a Lexus 2009 GS 450h Hybrid for the dinner’s Lexus Opportunity Drawing. Diamond Sponsors include The Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Dr. William G. & Carol Ouchi, The Pacific Bridge Companies, and Prudential. Sig Kagawa’s family is the VIP Reception Sponsor & Host for 2009.

Sponsorships are available at Diamond ($25,000), Platinum ($10,000), Gold ($5,000), Silver ($3,500), Bronze ($2,500) and Community ($1.750, available to community non-profit organizations). Individual tickets are also available at the Gold, Silver, and Bronze levels, as well as Lexus Opportunity Drawing tickets. For more information on the 2009 Annual Gala Dinner, contact the Japanese American National Museum at (213) 625-0414, visit