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Kotono HARA & Tatsushi MIYAKI (Economic Policy Division, Economic Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

A glimpse into her future — she loved to draw and organize people

With a love for illustrating since she was in elementary school, Dr. Hara published her own picture book at age 9. The story saw the main character, a rabbit, give pieces of her beloved handkerchief to birds passing by. “I have an interest in support for the development of developing nations, but I must have had an interest in sharing with and supporting others since I was a child.” During her junior and senior high school years, she took the role of director for group dancing in athletic meets and school plays in culture festivals. Even at the Ise-Shima Summit, her role was to compile the opinions and demands of related agencies and G7 nations. “I guess I’ve always liked to fill the role of manager,” she said with a laugh.

The value of proposal that she learned at OU

At Osaka University, she entered the Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP). “Public policy only makes sense if it is proposed. We do not only study public policy to analyze and explain about phenomena, but also say we should act in a certain way based on what we learned. That appealed to me," she said.

There are chances to have discussions at OSIPP, and she continued, “I had thought that those individuals who asserted their opinions could lead a discussion, but I realized that the ability to listen to others was extremely important. Those who can come up with compromises with other people’s positions in mind can lead discussions. The same is true of international discussions.

The words of an African girl led her to become a diplomat

Her interest in development support of developing countries was sparked by some unforgettable words. While studying abroad in England, she asked an African girl, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The girl responded, “A grownup.” “Not a florist, teacher, or doctor, things that elementary school students in Japan wish to become, but survival. It was a shock to me.”

While she was studying at a graduate school in France in pursuit of a career in an international organization after completing the master’s program at OSIPP, she was involved with work promoting smooth collaboration between major Japanese and French corporations. In addition to interest in development support, she also felt the joy of serving as a bridge between two nations through this work.

This motivated her to become a diplomat who can work as a Japanese person both for Japan and for international society, so she entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

There’s value in both success and failure

Her favorite expression is “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” To current students at OU, she gives a word of encouragement, saying “I met a lot of people in graduate school. The advice from them and all my experience, including success and failure, are all valuable. It’s important to be thankful to everyone you meet and for all of the experience you gain, and keep moving forward.”

・ Kotono HARA
A 2002 graduate of the master’s program and a 2011 graduate of the doctoral program at OSIPP, Dr. Hara entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in 2005. After working in the ODA Project for Developing Nations, the Tokyo Olympics Bid Committee, and diplomacy in Europe, she took her current position as a Deputy Director, Economic Policy Division, Economic Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in August of 2015. She also received her MBA from Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and Paris Dauphine University IX in 2003.

English and world history sparked his interest in the world

Mr. Miyaki was a mischievous soccer youth, but his junior and senior high school days found him in a bit of a slump. He had no motivation to study in high school, and he even quit soccer. “Study wasn’t enjoyable, and I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was trying to find myself,” said Mr. Miyaki, reflecting on a time when he worked a part time job just to buy records and CDs. However, he did enjoy English and world history. An interest in the world began to sprout within him, and when he thought back on it, this was likely the reason he wanted to become a diplomat.

The heart of thought cultivated at OU

Mr. Miyaki entered Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, which had a Department of International Relations. While in his 4th year, he studied abroad for 1 year in Singapore. While abroad, he experienced the joy of study, and, struck with the urge to continue his studies, he entered OSIPP after returning to Japan. “The two years I studied at OSIPP was really fruitful. While at OSIPP, I was able to acquire economic ways of thinking, which allowed me to develop a pillar for my own thinking. This was a huge boost for my self-confidence. Expertise can be applied in a variety of fields,” explained Mr. Miyaki. He still keeps in touch with his friends who became researchers after completing OSSIP, saying “It’s fun to talk with researchers. It’s such a boon to be connected with researchers, who are in a completely different world than public servants.”

Enchanted by workers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

After passing the national public service examination, he was enchanted by employees in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whom he met while visiting various ministries. "I was impressed to see them talk passionately about the future of Japan and their dreams."

After entered the MOFA, he was involved in Chinese diplomacy. “When making a policy proposal, there are various viewpoints and ideas depending on your standpoint, but in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we consider what is ‘best for Japan.’ Lately, I’ve been able to prepare materials for making policies in the light of national interests. It’s challenging.”

The importance of having a goal and continuing to strive for it

Mr. Miyaki’s favorite expression is from the Confucian scholar Issai SATOH who said, “Study when you’re young, and you’ll find success in your prime. Study in your prime, and you’ll find energy in your later years. Study in your later years, and your wisdom will not been lost, even after death.” 

“It means that continuous learning enriches our lives,” explained Mr. Miyaki. To current student at Osaka University, he gave this advice: “I started focusing on my studies fairly late, but it’s never too late. You only live once. Even if you take the long way, as long as you’ve got a goal, just keep doing your best without hesitation.”

• Tatsushi MIYAKI
A 2009 graduate of the master’s program at OSIPP, he entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the same year. He was involved in Chinese diplomacy, serving as secretary to ambassador in the Chinese Embassy in Japan. He took his current position as a Deputy Director, Economic Policy Division, Economic Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in January 2016

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)

(2-2-1, Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda, Tokyo)
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs consists of the headquarters in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo, as well as overseas diplomatic establishments all over the world. Excluding the Foreign Policy Bureau, which serves as an office to coordinate with other ministries, and the Minister’s Secretariat, the ministry is divided into 5 regional bureaus (Asia Pacific, North America, Central and South America, Europe, and the Middle East and Africa) and 4 functional bureaus (Economic Affairs Bureau, International Cooperation Bureau, International Legal Affairs Bureau, Consular Affairs Bureau), as well as the Intelligence Analysis Service, which collects and analyzes various data. 

Including 142 OU graduates, about 2,550 people and about 3,450 people are working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and overseas diplomatic establishments, respectively.

MOF website: http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/index.html

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