Aug 1, 2013
On Friday, July 19, 2013, the former UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, AKASAKA Kiyotaka, delivered a special lecture to an audience of APU students based on his 40+ year career at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and numerous international organizations. Mr. AKASAKA is the current President of the Foreign Press Center/Japan.
Entitled “An invitation to work for international organizations”, Mr. AKASAKA introduced what it is like to work for organizations such as the UN, the OECD, the WTO and the WHO – all of which Mr. AKASAKA has career experience with. The purpose of Mr. AKASAKA’s lecture was to encourage more Japanese students to think about careers in international organizations where Japanese are currently underrepresented, such as the UN and WHO. “Working with the WHO gave me a level of job satisfaction unlike any other profession. I remember administering polio vaccinations to children in Myanmar. Seeing their smiling faces and knowing that they would not have to worry about debilitating diseases like polio gave me such a fulfilling feeling”.
Reflecting on his time at GATT (forerunner of the WTO) and the UN, Mr. AKASAKA commented that “In these organizations you have the opportunity to work towards worthy ideals, such as trade liberalization, and the global common good. You have the chance to apply your skills through negotiating with fellow experts, writing critical reports about major economic powerhouses like the USA, and much more. People working for the UN are specialists that have come together from around the world with a shared vision of doing good for vulnerable people in need around the globe. You can help to affect real change – you won’t regret it”.
Following his speech, Mr. AKASAKA opened the floor to questions. In response to a question about the kind of qualities candidates must have to work in international organizations, Mr. AKASAKA replied: “Of course you must have the necessary qualifications, but you also need energy and enthusiasm. You need to be able to sustain your enthusiasm and energy levels towards achieving whatever mission or dream it is that you want to achieve”.
One of APU’s central aims is to produce graduates who can contribute to the development of the Asia Pacific Region and the global community. The opportunity to hear first-hand from a veteran of international relations on the global stage no doubt fuelled many students’ motivation to pursue similar careers.