Sophia Magazine vol.1 / SUMMER 2015

22thought protection by peacekeepers was not necessary. But then those who were actually delivering humanitarian supplies began to seek help for their own protection.O: That’s right. They were exposed to so much danger.U: I remember you came back to the Security Council and sought the protection of UN peacekeepers when necessary.O: That’s what was needed on the ground. You cannot let people be killed just because the law didn’t cover it.U: I think you established UNHCR as a very reliable and reputable agency, and as its leader, you were respected by everyone. I myself went to the eld a number of timesstarting in Namibia, back in 1989. I was an electoral monitor in the UN Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG). We rst monitored the identication of voters. Then later I joined the Electoral Division and prepared the electoral monitoring manual. When many governments sent elec-toral monitors at the time of the election, we trained those monitors for the election. I was one of the trainers and also monitored the election.O: Really?U: It was a ve-day election. The rst two days, we drew world attention. Namibia was going through a major his-torical change. But on the third day, the Berlin Wall col-lapsed and world attention shifted. We kept monitoring the election and the election was completed successfully. And the following year, Namibia became independent.O: That was a very special achievement.U: I also went to East Timor in 1999. I was a Political Af-fairs Ofcer but also became Deputy Spokesman. It was a very short three-month mission to organize a special kind of referendum known as popular consultation, basically asking the people of East Timor whether they wanted to be part of Indonesia or not. A “No” vote would mean inde-pendence. At that time, East Timor was still under Indo-nesian control. Indonesia-supported armed militias were everywhere. It was very difcult for us to put together a referendum in a free and fair manner. But somehow we managed to do it. Right after the poll, things were getting really bad, so we had to rush the vote counting. I volun-teered to be a vote counter and ended up being the last person to count the ballots (laughs).After you came back to Japan, did you go back to Sophia University to teach?O: I don’t think so. I had graduated from being a teacher. I had to start being a learner. However, it was Father Joseph Pittau who got me to teach at Sophia University in the rst place. He saw me going up the trash mountain in the Phil-ippines, like so many poor children. He said he wanted to have a teacher who actually acted like a human being.U: Father Pittau was the president of Sophia University when I was graduating. He was one of the professors who wrote me a letter of recommendation when I went to Co-lumbia University.O: Oh really? He was a great man.U: You came back to Japan, and became the head of JICA (the Japanese International Cooperation Agency). So you started contributing to international cooperation in a dif-ferent capacity.Ogata, as president of JICA, visited Banda Aceh, Indo-nesia, to inspect reconstruction in 2005, after the earth-quake and tsunami devastated the area. (Photo:JICA)Establishing the Reliabilityand Reputation of UNHCRBorn in 1927. After teaching International Politics at Sophia from 1980, she became the UN High Commis-sioner of Refugees (1991–2000). She was appointed president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2003 and resigned in 2012.SADAKO OGATASpecial Talk

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