Japanese Leaders Mourn Death of Former UNHCR Ogata


Tokyo, Oct. 29 (Jiji Press)--Japanese political leaders on Tuesday mourned the death of Sadako Ogata, the first Japanese and the first woman to serve as U.N. high commissioner for refugees.

"I cannot help but feel deep sorrow," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a statement. "I vividly remember her guiding me around a refugee camp during my visit to Kenya accompanying (then) Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori." Abe praised Ogata's commitment to a hands-on approach in her work, saying she "was active on the front lines, being considerate of people suffering on the ground."

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi also issued a statement hailing her "excellent leadership in facing the world's problems."

Defense Minister Taro Kono, who studied at Ogata's alma mater, Georgetown University, paid tribute to her at a press conference. "I met her at several dinner events. I was amazed at how clearly she expresses her opinions."

Ogata's passing is a great loss to Japanese diplomacy and to the international society," Fumio Kishida, chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's Policy Research Council, told reporters. Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of the LDP's coalition partner, Komeito, said Ogata was "a pioneer of female empowerment."

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