The new year brings in a new president for the Japan International Cooperation Agency as Sadako Ogata, at 84, resigns from her post as the agency’s head.
Ogata had contemplated to leave her post at the end of her second term, but signed on for a third tenure in October as JICA reportedly had a hard time finding a replacement. But as she leaves her post in March, Ogata will be passing on the torch to Akihiko Tanaka, a scholar of international politics and the current vice president of the University of Tokyo.
Tanaka, who obtained his doctorate in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981, has been a member of various government advisory panels, including the Advisory Group on International Cooperation for Peace and the Council on Security and Defense Capability. He also served as vice chairman of the board of the Japan Association of International Relations. His specialties center on theories of international politics, contemporary international relations in East Asia and issues concerning Japan-U.S. relations.
But even with an extensive background on international relations, Tanaka’s predecessor is a tough act to follow.
Ogata has been serving JICA for the past eight years. She was appointed president in October 2003 — when JICA was on its early years of being an independent administrative agency — after serving for a decade as U.N. high commissioner for refugees.
One of the biggest challenges to Ogata’s leadership was when JICA, in 2008, merged with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, an institution thought to be antithetical in practice. Three years have passed since and Japan is now one of the top 15 bilateral donor countries of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
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