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Kaoru Kashiwagi

Condolences and tributes have poured in to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law honoring Kaoru Kashiwagi, a long-time donor and friend who died on April 6, 2021 in Japan at the age of 97. His generosity supported student scholarships, UH law library acquisitions, and helped build an ongoing link between Hawaiʻi and Japan in post World War II years.

The Kaoru and Michiko Kashiwagi Endowment—established in 1989 and named for the attorney and his wife—funded 25 years of research at the UH law school and supported dozens of student scholarship awards and a multitude of important acquisitions for the library. The endowment enabled the library to add more than 100 monographs and more than 30 journal titles. It also made possible the extensive research by Professor Mark Levin into Japanese law, especially its post-war development.

“Our school would not have a Japanese law program if not for the endowment he established 30 years ago,” said Levin, the director of the UH Pacific-Asian Legal Studies Program. “Dr. Kashiwagi was a very early bridge in Hawaiʻi-Japan relationships in the post-war years. He built an important international law practice, and earned a dissertation-based PhD focused on UK/Japan comparative corporate governance in his 80s after his retirement.”

Kashiwagi’s firm has also been a strong support for Richardson graduates in Asia. Moon-Ki Chai has worked for the last three decades in the Kashiwagi Sogo Law Offices in Tokyo, and a number of other graduates have held both summer and full-time positions.

“I am forever grateful to Dr. Kashiwagi, and will remember him fondly for his kindness, generosity and vision,” said Spencer Kimura, a faculty specialist who received a Kashiwagi Scholarship in 1994. “Thanks to the generosity of the Kashiwagis in establishing this foundation, I was able to spend that summer in Tokyo, conducting research into Japanese antitrust law with Professor Jiro Tamura of Keio University. This experience fueled my interest in international legal education, and set me on a path toward my current position as director of the LLM program at Richardson law school, where I help cultivate the next generation of international lawyers.”

As the current scholarship recipient—and one of the students to benefit from the Kashiwagi Endowment—Natsumi Nishimoto is grateful for the financial assistance that has enabled her to focus on her Japan-oriented studies and aspirations. Although she never met her benefactor, Nishimoto believes Kashiwagi’s generosity and forward-looking visions “have helped and will continue to help nurture capable Richardson lawyers in fostering the Hawaiʻi-Japan connection.”

UH law school associates also remember Kashiwagi’s spirited personality that embraced diversity and gave unstintingly to Richardson. To honor that help—through the doctorate he earned well into his 80s—in 2005 he became the first person awarded an honorary degree from Richardson. Kashiwagi was also the first international legal consultant licensed to practice in Hawaiʻi, becoming a member of the Hawaiʻi State Bar Association through 2020.

“We appreciate the friendship and legacy of Dr. Kashiwagi as well as his generous and inspired engagement with Richardson Law,” said Dean Camille Nelson. “His support has made an important contribution to our ongoing excellence, especially our expertise in Japanese legal studies, and the Pacific-Asian Legal Studies Program more generally.”

For more information, see the UH law school website.