Daniel Kahikina Akaka (born September 11, 1924) is the junior U.S. Senator from Hawaii and a member of the Democratic Party. He is the first U.S. Senator of Native Hawaiian ancestry and is currently the only member of the Senate who has Chinese descent. With the departure of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska he became the fourth oldest member of the United States Senate after Robert Byrd, Frank Lautenberg, and Daniel Inouye.
Akaka was born in Honolulu to Annie Kahoa and Kahikina Akaka. He entered the military immediately after high school graduation, serving from 1943 to 1947. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including service on Saipan and Tinian. He worked as a welder and a mechanic and spent his final months of the war as a first mate on the vessel Morning Star.
Entering college (funded by the G.I. Bill), he earned a Bachelor of Education in 1952 from the University of Hawaii. He later received a Master of Education from the same school in 1966. He worked as a high school teacher in Honolulu from 1953 until 1960, when he was then hired as a vice principal. In 1963, he became head principal. In 1969, he was hired by the Department of Education as a chief program planner. Akaka then continued working in government, holding positions as director of the Hawaii Office of Economic Opportunity, human resources assistant for state Governor George Ariyoshi, and director of the Progressive Neighborhoods Program.