H. William Tanaka was a Washington lawyer and the founder and senior member of the law firm of Tanaka, Ritger & Middleton.
Mr. Tanaka was born and raised in Los Angeles. He served in the Army during World War II and afterward as an economic analyst with U.S. occupation forces in Tokyo.
Later he graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles, then came to Washington and received a law degree from George Washington University.
He opened a law practice in Washington in 1954, and served as a Japanese language instructor at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute.
In his law practice, Mr. Tanaka specialized in U.S.-Japanese trade and investment matters. He had written and given lectures on U.S.-Japanese trade matters, comparative management practices and industrial policy.
In November of 1991 Mr. Tanaka received the Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Japanese government at a ceremony at the Japanese Embassy. The award was given for contributions to Japanese-American friendship and understanding.
Mr. Tanaka served on the boards of the National Cathedral School for Girls, the Washington Performing Arts Society and the Japanese American National Museum. He was a past president of the Japan-America Society of Washington DC.