Born on October 14, 1947 in Tokyo.
Grew up in a hastily built housing complex on the ruins of the Nakajima Fighter-Airplane Hospital in Tokyo suburbia. Adjacent to the complex were luxurious apartment houses for the US military civilian employees.
Elementary school was a public school next to an open field and enjoyed a free-range childhood. Attended Musashi Junior and Senior High School, a private school where he was a member of the swimming and brass band clubs.
At the time didn’t think anything more of Musashi’s Three Founding Principles—“Cultivate individuals capable of researching and thinking for themselves; Cultivate individuals prepared to excel on the world stage; Cultivate individuals capable of realizing the national ideal harmonization of Eastern and Western cultures”—but would later put them into practice.
Enrolled in the Faculty of Humanity of University of Tokyo with an aim to pursue sociology, but disliked the academic approach. Acting on instinct changed course of study to international relations, Department of Liberal Arts.
Ensuing is lifelong involvement with foreign countries.
Amid the student riots in the latter half of the 1960s, became interested in socialism and took up “theory of comparative systems,” making this the subject of his graduation thesis.
In following suit of a peer, took the foreign service exam and as luck would have it passed the exam: a life-changing event.
Studied abroad for two years at Harvard Graduate School (with M.A.) and one year at Moscow State University. At Harvard, reading 200 pages a day of “original works” was required. Ever since then studying has been a lifelong habit. Specialized in Sovietology.
At Moscow State University, met his wife who had come to study from Denmark. Immersed himself in studying works by Pushkin and Chekhov. Satisfies his longstanding appetite for literature.
Globe-trotting and work
Later on, his foreign assignments were: three assignments to the Soviet Union/Russia for a total of 11 years; Bonn, former West Germany; Sweden; Consul-General of Japan in Boston; Minister at the Embassy of Japan in Russia; Ambassador of Japan to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan).
In Japan, was in charge of assignments related to the world economy, information, Vietnam, Eastern Europe, and cultural exchanges. Also studied Japanese politics during his assignment at the Cabinet Office.
Acquired ability to discuss the current political, economic, and social situations in three languages—Japanese, English, and Russian—while bearing in mind the history of civilizations. His method of thinking is literally “vertical and horizontal,” i.e. carries out extensive research on history and case examples in other countries before speaking no matter what the topic may be.
His fundamental values are liberalism, individualism, and middle-class solidarity.
Being in a freer position to speak to the world
Resigned from the post of Ambassador of Japan to Uzbekistan in September 2004 and assumed the position of Chief Economist at the Research Institute of Capital Formation of the Development Bank of Japan, securing his footing for commentary work.
Amid the rise of China, is examining the direction Japan should take in response to the significant changes underway wherein 500 years of white domination of the world is coming to an end.
In 2006 launched personal blog, “Japan and World Trends.” Sharing thoughts with friends worldwide in Japanese, English, Russian, and the language he is currently studying, Chinese. The blog aims to prevent conflicts arising from misunderstandings and misconceptions between countries.
He is probably the only diplomat in the world to have been working in Moscow during all the major events in the contemporary history of the Soviet Union/Russia: the heyday of Communist Party General Secretary Brezhnev of the Soviet Union, his death, the transition period from Andropov to Gorbachev, coup d’etat, the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of Yeltsin, the shelling of the Parliament, and the rise of Putin.
Against the backdrop of the knowledge and insights he acquired, began participating in debate forums since the 1980s as a specialist in Soviet studies.
Has published three works on the society and economy of the Soviet Union (“Will the Soviet Society Undergo a Transformation?,” “The Trials of the Soviet Union,” [both published by Simul Press under the pseudonym Toru Saga] and “The Bridge to Russia” [Simul Press under his real name]).
Thereafter in 2002, an epic novel “Beyond the Horizon—the Tale of Ilya” (published by Vagrius and Soshisha Publishing under the pseudonym Akira Kumano) depicting the fate of a Russian against the backdrop of the fall of the Soviet Union whom the Russian media described as “present day Doctor Zhivago” in its reviews was published in Russia and Japan, thereby paying back in small amount Japan’s debt to Russian literature since Futabatei Shimei.
In 2004, published “The Loss of the Meanings” (Soshisha Publishing), which while shedding light on the living situations in Russia, USA, Western Europe, and Uzbekistan in essay style, explained that the set of values Japanese people have sought to date such as sophistication and liberalism are in danger of collapsing amid the demise of “nation states” formed in the 19th century due to the globalization of economies and wave of immigrants. In 2005 published “The Job of Diplomats” (Soshisha Publishing). The book aims to correct the current situation in which one-sided criticisms and revelations are more easily exposed as the job of diplomats is increasingly not visible to the society at large. Also noted that a more proactive and creative approach is being sought for Japanese diplomacy amid the changing dynamics of the world.