Bruce I. Yamashita is a third-generation Japanese-American, born and raised in Honolulu. His father, Paul Yamashita, was the Head Bridge Engineer at the Department of Transportation for the State of Hawaii. His mother, Pearl, was on the faculty of the College of Education at the University of Hawaii.
He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii, master’s in international affairs from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. In high school, he was the student body president and an all-star athlete. During college, he spent a year abroad at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. After college, he spent four years working in Tokyo: researcher at a trading company; editor of a newspaper; disc jockey for a national radio station.
On May 1, 2009, Captain Yamashita was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps Reserves. He lives in Washington D.C. where he practices immigration & nationality law, and criminal defense. Over the years, he has represented literally thousands of immigrants and criminal defendants, including those facing removal and serious felonies. He is the recipient of the Georgetown University Asian Pacific American Law Students Association’s Alumnus of the Year Award, and the Japanese American Citizens League’s Civil Rights Award. He was recognized by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as one of the “Ten Who Made A Difference.” On November 7, 2014, he received the Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award at the Annual Convention of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
He continues to speak out to ensure that America and the military lives up to its ideals. He has been invited to appear at various forums such as the Japanese American National Museum, Organization of Chinese Americans, University of Georgia, NYU, Princeton University, University of Washington, Bowling Green State University, UCLA, Georgetown University Law Center, University of Nevada-Las Vegas Law School, Smithsonian Institution, Bill Gates Millennium Leadership Conference, DaimlerChrysler, United Methodist Church, Defense Intelligence Agency, NASA-Lewis Research Center, and Kitsap Naval Base. His story has been used as a resource at the Department of Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI). He is a member of the Anti-Hazing Coalition, which meets with high ranking officials at the Pentagon. In 2011, he came full circle when the Department of the Navy invited him to speak to 400 young marines at Kitsap Naval Base (Bremerton, WA) regarding diversity and equal opportunity.