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“In the future, I want to establish a school!”
A hard-working student who has also participated in the G20 and APEC

Megumi Yoshinaga

“Tell me your aspirations for the Tokyo Olympics.” This question was posed by Megumi Yoshinaga, who participated in the Youth Summit at the 2013 APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Economic Leaders’ Meeting, which gathers the principle countries of the Pacific Rim. The addressee was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. After answering her question, the Prime Minister added, “I hope to see people like Megumi participating in the event seven years from now.”

With Hiromasa Yonekura, Chairman of Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), at APEC. During the week-long session, Yoshinaga exchanged words with the heads of various countries and the CEOs of numerous companies.

Just two people from Japan passed through a screening process to participate in the event. Yoshinaga was one of those who managed to get chosen. The word “prodigy” fits her perfectly, but Yoshinaga, reflecting back on her past, states, “I’ve always faced adversity.”

Yoshinaga was born in China. Although Yoshinaga began living in Japan when she came to the country for the first time at the age of 12, she was not able to understand the language and the culture was also unfamiliar. In junior high school, she was bullied soon after entering, and she sometimes skipped attending. Informed by her few friends that she could become popular in Japan if she studied hard and got good grades, she dove into her schoolwork each day until late in the evening in order to carve out her own space. Because of this, in her first tests, Yoshinaga immediately rose to the top of the class except in Japanese. Thereafter, the bullying suddenly disappeared. Even so, Yoshinaga always felt a growing sense of danger. “Because I came to Japan at the age of 12, my studies were more than 10 years behind my friends. I felt I had to work even harder to make up for my disadvantage.” These feelings continued to propel her, and even after entering Waseda University, her grades continue to be excellent. While winning business contests on the one hand, Yoshinaga has also actively participated in study abroad and international exchange in China and the U.K. Around the time she began to desire to contribute to society, she happened to hear about recruitment for the G20 (Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy) Youth Summit and became interested. One requirement was that the applicant be a graduate or doctoral student, but her passion convinced the recruiters and she was selected to be the youngest participant in history.

However, this would become a major setback. All of the participants from other countries were older and had prepared flawlessly in part with help from their governments. Yoshinaga did not even know the procedure of the meetings and had no agendas she wished to discuss. Although she had gained a valuable experience in participating in a global summit, Yoshinaga was filled with regret.

One year later, in 2013, Yoshinaga applied to the APEC Youth Summit and once again passed the selection process as the youngest in history. Vowing to make her mark this time, she prepared with the goal of promoting the Tokyo Olympics to the world before traveling to the event country. Engaging in repeated interviews and discussions with Youth Summit members and CEOs gathered from various countries and giving the question mentioned in the first paragraph to Prime Minister Abe in the speech session by leaders, Yoshinaga succeeded in drawing worldwide attention. “Dispelling my regret from the G20 event, I felt very relieved.”

Yoshinaga is now already focused on cultivating the next generation of youth, stating, “First, I want to go to graduate school, and by the age of 50 I want to set up a school. I want to raise talented people able to flourish in international society.” Now that Yoshinaga is familiar with Japanese culture and despite experiencing being bullied, why does she want to work for the benefit of the country?

“Although I have had some bad experiences, there was always someone who helped me during those times. Because Japan is truly a wonderful country, I want to repay my debt to it. I want to become someone able to play an active role in the world like Sadako Ogata, who served as the Eighth Officer of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and tell the world about Japan’s good qualities.”

In 2012, Yoshinaga participated in the G20, traveling to Los Cabos, Mexico.

In 2013, Yoshinaga studied abroad in the U.K., participating in University of Cambridge Summer School.

Sponsoring a fashion show to promote Middle Eastern culture in Japan and guiding it to success was also a valuable experience for Yoshinaga.

(Offered By:WASEDA WEEKLY)

Megumi Yoshinaga
Fourth Year, School of Political Science and Economics

Originally from Heilongjiang, China, Megumi Yoshinaga graduated from International Christian University High School. She is a real hard worker, jogging 15 km each week in order to temper her spirit. Yoshinaga enjoys going for drives in areas with lots of natural scenery on her days off. She has travelled to over 100 cities in 25 countries.