Paul Bannai

Paul Takeo Bannai (July 4, 1920 – September 14, 2019) was an American politician who was the first Japanese American to ever serve in the California State Legislature. He served in the State Assembly as a Republican legislator from 1973 until 1980, when he was defeated for reelection by Democrat Richard Floyd.

Paul Bannai
Member of the California State Assembly
In office
Personal details
Born(1920-07-04)July 4, 1920
Delta, Colorado
DiedSeptember 14, 2019(2019-09-14) (aged 99)
Political partyRepublican

Legislative careerEdit

He represented the 67th District in his first term but was then reapportioned into the 53rd District, where he served for the rest of his time in the legislature. Bannai served on the following committees: Criminal Justice, Finance and Insurance, Veterans Affairs, Ways and Means, and Rules.


Bannai was born in Colorado in 1920 to Japanese immigrant parents.[1] In 1942, he was interned at Manzanar during World War II with his family due to Executive Order 9066.[2] From there, Bannai enlisted in the United States Army and served with the 442nd Infantry Regiment and the Army Intelligence Service.[3]

Prior to serving in the legislature, Bannai served on the Gardena City Council and the Gardena Planning Commission. After his defeat, Bannai served as Chief Memorial Affairs Director for National Cemetery System which is part of the Veterans Administration.

He died in September 2019 at the age of 99.[3]


  1. ^ "National Cemetery Administration: Paul Takeo Bannai, Chief Memorial Affairs Director". Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  2. ^ "Japanese American Internee Data File: Paul Bannai". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved October 12, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Obituary: Paul Takeo Bannai". Retrieved October 12, 2019.
California Assembly
Preceded by
Larry Townsend
California State Assemblyman, 67th District
Succeeded by
Jerry Lewis
Preceded by
Bill Greene
California State Assemblyman, 53rd District
Succeeded by
Richard Floyd