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I heard the news of Mme. Ogata’s passing right before I was to meet with friend over lunch.  I had many encounters over the past several decades with Mme. Ogata and always was  impressed and inspired by her relatively low key style, and strong will to make the world the better place.

The first time I heard about her (other than as the super important person who taught at Sophia University, etc.) was when I was a students in the US and got to know something about the UN.   She represented Japan at the UN on many occasions. .

Several years later, I got to know Mme. Ogata through activities and events at the World Economic Forum and at seminar at Academy Hills.  I ran into Mme. Ogata and her late husband at many receptions.  (I always thought it was such a nice couple… and thus I was concerned how she managed after her husband passed away.)

Once I moderated the small group discussion where she was a speaker. She shared completely opposite view of what I had said about how Japan should connect with the rest of the world.  I was quite embarrassed  and wanted to die there, but she continued as if nothing had happened, which saved me!  When we discussed freedom and security at the Forum meeting, I realized she was the one that advocated the concept of “freedom from.”  Probably she was best known as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) from 1991 to 2000.

She was so respected among the people throughout the world as she was the person of action and of clear view.  I am extremely fortunate that I had an opportunity to meet her and get to know her.  We are very fortunate to have a person like her.  She will be missed….

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