Japan Women Leaders

Ogata Sadako
Japanese Diplomat

Born in Tokyo in 1927. After graduating from the Faculty of Letters at the University of the Sacred Heart, he studied abroad in the United States and received a Master's degree in International Relations from Georgetown University and a PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He became an associate professor at International Christian University (ICU) in 1974 and a professor at Sophia University in 1980. In 1976, he became the first Japanese woman to serve as a UN minister, a minister of envoys, and a representative of the Japanese government of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Since 1991, he has been engaged in refugee support activities as the 8th United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Retired in December 2000. Since 2001, he has served as Co-Chair of the Human Security Committee, Special Representative of the Government of Japan for Afghanistan, Member of the UN Expert High-Level Committee, and Chair of the Human Security Advisory Committee. From 2003 to 2012, Chairman of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). 92 years old.

In the refugee camp in Bangladesh, where Rohingya refugees live, an infected person was confirmed on May 14, and tensions are increasing. Please see how UNHCR supports Covid-19 in the latest report (as of May 1) received from Hosoi staff who continue to deliver support locally 

Rohingya refugees

Ichiyo Higuchi (1872-1896)
Japanese Author

Ichiyo Higuchi was a Japanese author who wrote short stories under the pen name Natsu Higuchi. She was one of the first significant writers to appear in the Meiji period and also Japan's first renowned woman writer of modern times.

Her stories are centered around women and the poor told in a manner inspired by both the rapidly modernizing society and classical poetry. Even though she died at a very young age (24), her work continues to affect Japanese literature. To this day, she is still appreciated by the Japanese public. Her face can be seen on the Japanese 5,000 yen bill.

Shidzue Katō (1897-2001)
Women’s Rights Activist

A notable 20th-century Japanese feminist, Shidzue Katō was the first woman elected to the Diet of Japan after Japanese women gained the right to vote in 1946. Her passion for family planning and improving the economic prospects of women was her campaign platform. In 1946, she led the first "women only" rally in Tokyo to protest for greater economic resources for women.

Even after her retirement, she continued to speak out about feminist issues, as well as continued to chair the Family Planning Federation of Japan. In 1988, she received the United Nations Population Award and the Katō Shizdue Award was established to honor her work. She was 104 when she died on December 22, 2001. Thanks to her amazing works, there was, and still is, a decrease in the number of abortions, infant mortality, and maternal death rates in Japan.