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Top>HAKUMON Chuo [2013 Early Spring Issue]>[News & Chuo University News] International Week 4th Theme: United Nations

Hakumon CHUOIndex

News & Chuo University News

International Week

4th Theme: United Nations


Three women working at the forefront of the world

Ms. Keiko Kamioka
International Labor Organization (ILO)
Regional Director, Japan Office

Ms. Rumiko Seya
Japan Center for Conflict Prevention (JCCP)

Ms. An Funakoshi
United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP)
Programme Assistant, Postgraduate Programme

Three women working at the United Nations (Headquarters: New York) were invited. The illustrious lineup consisted of Keiko Kamioka, Regional Director of the Japan Office of the International Labor Organization (ILO), Rumiko Seya, Secretary-General of the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention (JCCP), and An Funakoshi, Programme Assistant of the Postgraduate Programme at the United Nations University Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP). The symposium was filled with valuable talk based on actual experience. Topics included each woman’s individual career, impetus for working at the UN, fulfillment of working on an international stage, and discussions of difficult experiences. (December 8th, 2012; Korakuen Campus, Chuo University)

Work captured through effort

After each woman gave a self-introduction, the symposium shifted to a panel discussion. Professor Yasuko Tsuru (Faculty of Law, Chuo University) served as coordinator for the discussion. The three women shared the common point of not being born with an advantage for performing in international society.

For financial reasons, Kamioka had given up on entering university. She began working at a company while studying at a technical school for movie translation. Afterwards, she attended a university in America and then worked at an American corporation after graduation. One of her clients was concerned about Kamioka’s extremely busy schedule and introduced her to a UN official. Through this connection, Kamioka’s resume caught the eye of UN personnel staff and she began working at the UN.

“Things just moved along without a plan,” says Kamioka to describe her experience. There is another path to UN employment other than the traditional system of applying to UN recruitment, selling one’s self and gaining employment.

Conversely, Seya has steadily built up her career. A graduate of the Chuo University Faculty of Policy Study, Seya was selected as one of the 25 Japanese People Respected by the World (Newsweek (see separate chart)). However, when returning to her parents’ home, Seya is the only member of her family who holds a passport. She says that her impetus for working in international society was a feeling of inferiority to those around her.

“I have no strong points.” When she was young, Seya decided that she had to change herself. She had to do something different from everyone else. She decided to focus on English, which she began to study from junior high school.

Seya sought to become stronger by acquiring a skill which other people do not possess. Her focus was on a skill for which there is demand but insufficient supply. She searched for niche industries, someplace where she would be needed. When starting new work, this was the basis for Seya’s thinking.

Funakoshi is the similar in how her interest in language led to her current career. Although Funakoshi comes from a mixed marriage of Japanese and Filipino parents, she studied in Japan and wasn’t blessed with the international environment which some people might imagine. After entering the Chuo University Faculty of Law, Funakoshi received the Motivation Support Scholarship (refer to separate article). She studied in India and Austria, becoming focused on overseas. Although the majority of her friends at university were studying for the bar examination, Funakoshi selected long-term foreign study even though she felt some uneasiness towards her future. Despite there being no prospect of acquiring all the necessary credits by her 3rd year, Funakoshi felt that long-term foreign study would provide her with invaluable experiences.

“When are you going to take a risk?” asks Funakoshi. “My advice is that you take advantage of your unique position as a student.”

What does it take to work at the UN? According to Funakoshi, language ability is essential, as are flexibility and a capacity for judgment. The most important quality is the ability to organize. Foreigners are extremely straightforward and blunt. For example, it is necessary to avoid trouble such as a business party insisting that they didn’t receive necessary materials while you insist that you already provided said materials. For that reason, you must always be able to produce the necessary items.

“Don’t accept work which you aren’t capable of doing,” says Seya. “It is sometimes necessary to turn away.” People seeking aid have already been devastated once. If you casually accept work and then aren’t able to achieve the necessary goals, such people will feel a deep sense of despair. Aid is intended to make such people independent. Providing help with everything is of no benefit to people seeking aid. Even if you are cursed for being diabolical you must never forget this lesson—don’t accept work which you aren’t capable of doing and sometimes turn away.

“When working at the UN, you will not be promoted if you are passive.”—This statement by Kamioka carries great weight. It is necessary to gather information on open positions. If you are interested in a position, you must actively sell yourself and win the position. It is normal for 300 people to apply for a single position. “The UN is a much more competitive organization than it appears. You must possess a clear vision of why you are working at a UN organization.”

The end of the symposium featured a Q&A session. Numerous questions were posed including “What are the most important qualities when working on-site?” and “What areas have needs but lack sufficient resources?” The three women were most responsive regarding the point that at least three years of experience working in society are necessary to be hired as a UN employee. University students face a barrier and it is not possible to become a UN employee immediately after graduation.

“Accumulate experience, even if you have to pay for it,” said Seya. Funakoshi stated that the UN requires people who consider their own capabilities and potential. “The UN seeks employees who will make an immediate impact,” explained Kamioka, pointing out that a university education is not enough to meet employment requirements. Kamioka then gave recommendations based on her own experience. She explained that there are various methods for gaining employment at the UN, including selling yourself during internships. Kamioka encouraged symposium attendees by discussing the possibility of employment.

The symposium was also attended by student from other universities and high school students. The event was so animated that questions continued even after the scheduled closing time. The symposium ended on a high note. For university students, all of the content was information which cannot usually be heard directly. After the seminar, interested applicants attended a lively social gathering. The three women were surrounded by a large audience and listened to rapid-fire questions, offering valuable advice. As globalization continues, the necessity and importance of the UN will only increase. I hoped that the symposium would be the impetus for more Japanese people and Chuo University graduates to enter this global stage.

25 Japanese People Respected by the World
Newsweek Japan (May 18th, 2011 issue)

  1. Ken Watanabe (actor)
  2. Akira Kawamura (lawyer)
  3. Kazuo Ueda (bartender)
  4. Erina Takahashi (ballerina)
  5. Hiroyuki Mano (medical scientist)
  6. Hide Ishizuka (owner sommelier)
  7. Taira Nono (bullfighter)
  8. Shigeru Miyamoto (video game creator)
  9. Seiji Isobe (karate expert)
  10. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki (economist)
  11. Hiromi Uehara (jazz pianist)
  12. Setsuko Hara (actress)
  13. Osamu Suzuki (chairman of Suzuki Motor Corporation)
  14. Kimiko Date-Krumm (tennis player)
  15. Rome Kanda (actor, master of ceremony)
  16. Ryo Sakaguchi (VFX creator)
  17. Kazuo Ishiguro (author)
  18. Nobuo Tanaka (executive director of IEA)
  19. Yasutsune Hirashiki (cameraman)
  20. Kazuyo Sejima, Ryue Nishizawa (architectural unit SANAA)
  21. Tomihiro Kawano (headpiece artist)
  22. Daido Moriyama (photographer)
  23. Rumiko Seya (secretary-general of JCCP)
  24. Toshinori Munakata (artificial intelligence researcher)
  25. Takashi Murakami (artist)

*Honorific titles omitted.

Faculty of Law: Motivation Support Scholarship
The Motivation Support Scholarship is a scholarship system in the Chuo University Faculty of Law.
Scholarships are divided into five activity-based sections.

General Section Applies to all activity themes. Maximum scholarship of 950,000 yen.
Overseas Language-Training Section Applies to students involved in activities focusing on overseas language training (including internships, fieldwork, volunteer activities, etc.). Maximum scholarship of 285,000 yen.
Long-Term Overseas Training Section Applies to students involved in full-scale overseas study for a long-period of time. Maximum scholarship of 1,425,000 yen.
Short-Term Overseas Training Section Applies to students involved in overseas internships through enrollment in internship-related courses established by the Faculty of Law. Maximum scholarship of 250,000 yen.
Legal Professional / Public Servant / Researcher Section Applies to students seeking to pass the bar examination or civil servant examination, or seeking to enter graduate school or professional graduate school. Scholarship of 300,000 yen.

*Actual experiences of older students who have studied using the scholarships are disclosed in the 2F Resource Center of the Faculty of Law Building (Building No. 6).
(Scholarship system in the Faculty of Law listed on Chuo University homepage)

(Student Reporter: Mariko Yajima, 2nd-Year Student in the Faculty of Law)