In Memoriam: Norman Y. Mineta

2002 Japan Society Award recipient Norman Y. Mineta (second from left). With Mr. Mineta are (from left to right): William Clark, Jr., President, Japan Society; Annual Dinner Vice Chairman Nobuo Kuroyanagi, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer for the Americas, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Ltd.; and Annual Dinner Chairman James E. Copeland, Jr., Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte & Touche, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. Photo © Ken Levinson.

Japan Society notes with deep sadness the passing of Norman Y. Mineta (1931-2022). A trailblazer in American politics, Mr. Mineta was among the 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry forced into internment camps during WWII. While in Congress, he was a driving force in passing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which officially apologized for and redressed the injustices endured by Japanese Americans during the war.

Mr. Mineta’s extraordinary legacy was one of many firsts. The San Jose native made history when he became the first Asian American to hold a mayoral seat in a major American city. After nearly 21 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, he was the first Asian American to be named a federal Cabinet secretary, serving as Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton and then as Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush.

In 2002, Mr. Mineta received the Japan Society Award for his outstanding contributions to better U.S.-Japan understanding. We honor Mr. Mineta’s rich life and legacy as we pay tribute to the generations of Asian American and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and culture this #AAPIHeritageMonth.