Nationality

Japan

Education

Juris Doctor in Law, University of San Diego School of Law, San Diego, California, United States

Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Languages

Japanese, English

As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to be able to represent the humanitarian views of the international community at large as opposed to just one group. I have always felt a calling towards helping others.

My mother used to work for Mother Teresa’s Sisters in Japan and I often accompanied her to help. After this experience, I continued to work with homeless people in Japan. When I was in university in Philadelphia, I organized events for children who ate at the local soup kitchen and played baseball with them. The desire to help disadvantaged persons continuously stayed with me. Added to that drive, was my keen interest in political science and international affairs - an interest which I subsequently developed in college and eventually drew me like a magnet to the United Nations.

My career with the United Nations has taken me from Minsk, Belarus to Warsaw, Poland and on to London, United Kingdom, while working to protect refugees. Now, I am based at the United Nations Headquarters in New York working on counter terrorism.

I started with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Minsk, in 1995 under the Junior Professional Officer programme, right after completing my bar examination. As an Associate Protection Officer, my job was to make sure refugees in need of protection are given asylum in their new home. We had to make sure they had access to shelter as well as basic rights, like access to schools, jobs and medical care.

In London, my job as Legal Officer for UNHCR was more on the diplomatic and policy side of the business. I worked very closely with host government officials as well as representatives of civil society to deal with an unprecedented surge in the number of persons applying for asylum in the United Kingdom. That was the interesting part about a day with the UNHCR: in the morning, I could be with a refugee, giving him or her ideas on what kind of business they could get into to make a living, and in the afternoon, I would be briefing a government minister on the situation of asylum in a country. Working with refugees was a moving experience that will stay with me forever.

My happiest moments at the United Nations are the instances when, due to my intervention, I could literally say I either saved or changed someone’s life. Such occasions affect you in a lasting manner.

Now, as a Legal Officer at the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate at United Nations Headquarters in New York, I have evolved and I am doing something very different. I am on the other side of the fence, so to speak. My counterparts are frequently people from various law enforcement, intelligence and security services.

This is the fantastic thing about the job opportunities at the United Nations. I would not have expected to be meeting with the kind of people I meet with now on my present job. It is so much of a contrast to what I did before but I love it.

Today I generally keep track of all Member States in South Asia on how they are complying with the Security Council resolution on counter-terrorism. I work closely with governments in the region to increase their capacity and promoting cooperation among neighboring countries to collectively improve their ability to fight terrorism.

For me, the belief that I am somehow a small yet essential part of a greater effort to better peoples’ lives is what keeps me going. I cannot think of any other environment where you are given such a tremendous platform and power to potentially effect change and to enable dialogue between persons who come from entirely different backgrounds.

While headquarters has its attractions, I would strongly encourage people to start their United Nations experience from the field. It is the best way to witness first-hand the fruits of one’s labour and more importantly to see in a very quantifiable manner, the positive impact that the United Nations can have in the real world.

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