Akaka recently received the distinguished JAVA Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Support to Veterans.
“When I became a U.S. senator, I was determined to correct the injustice done to persons of Japanese ancestry, particularly those who served in the uniform of our country,” Akaka told representatives of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA) on Sept. 27, when they visited him at his office in the Senate’s Hart Building.
Akaka is America’s first senator of Native Hawaiian ancestry, and the only Chinese-American member of the United States Senate.
Already the recipient of JAVA’s highest award, The Courage, Honor, Patriotism Award, in 2007, Akaka was presented with JAVA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, a framed citation which listed his major accomplishments for veterans, including Japanese Americans, an inscribed desk clock and a replica of the Congressional Gold Medal that was bestowed upon the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) last fall.
In presenting the award, JAVA President Gerald Yamada told Akaka, “you have championed issues that are important to veterans and you are a true friend and supporter of all veterans and their families. You have a long and personal relationship with JAVA and have been an honorary JAVA chair since its inception in 1993.” The inscription on the desk clock and the medal case says “For outstanding leadership and support on veterans matters.”
Akaka said he was deeply touched by this recognition and he philosophized on his support for all veterans, including the Nisei veterans. He said he was especially pleased with the upgrades of 22 Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor and of the 514-page Army publication “Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During World War II.”
He also said the Army has committed to write another book on the Nisei’s unique contribution to the Occupation of Japan, which he termed the military’s “exit strategy” of the Asia Pacific War. The senator commended JAVA, other Japanese American veterans organizations, and museums for publicizing the Japanese American World War II experience to the American people.
The citation of the JAVA award, read by Lt. Janelle Kuroda, USN, a U.S. Navy legal officer, referred to Akaka’s distinguished service of 14 years in the House of Representatives and 22 years in the Senate, including his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs which produced “an unmatched record of new laws affecting veterans health care and compensation benefits.”
Kuroda enumerated other highlights of the senator’s distinguished legislative career, such as his creation of the Office of Minority Veterans in the Department of Veterans Affairs, contribution to the establishment of Hawaii’s first DVA medical center at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, support of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act and support for the creation of the MIS Historic Learning Center in San Francisco by the National Japanese American Historical Society. Various veterans organizations contributed to the preparation of the citation.
To accompany the JAVA presentation, U.S. Air Force (Ret.) Col. Bruce Hollywood, the JAVA executive director, presented Akaka a digital recording of data of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service specifically designed and prepared for Akaka by Jim Yamashita, director of the Americans of Japanese Ancestry WW II Memorial Alliance, and Susan Uyemura, chief executive officer of Japanese Living Legacy.