Yoko Kamikawa

On September 18, 2023, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken welcomed Yoko Kamikawa in her first visit to the U.S. as Japan’s Foreign Minister. Her trip to New York City was her diplomatic debut, holding talks with her counterparts and representing Japan at the United Nations General Assembly.

As a visiting student on the Fulbright Program in 1988, Ms. Kamikawa completed a Master of Public Administration degree at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Since then, she has become an experienced stateswoman and energetic supporter of U.S.-Japanese cultural exchange.

“The Fulbright Program provided me with the inspiration to pursue my career as a politician.” 

After her Fulbright experience, Ms. Kamikawa returned to Japan and subsequently served as a member of parliament and in cabinet positions as the Minister of Justice (three times) and the Minister of State for Gender Equality and Social Affairs.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel called Prime Minister Fumio Kushida’s appointment of Ms. Kamikawa a sign of commitment to U.S.-Japanese relations and he praised her as a “very capable and persuasive voice on behalf of our alliance.”

To celebrate the Fulbright Program’s 75th anniversary in 2021, Ms. Kamikawa, who was serving as Japan’s Minster for Justice, gave an interview in which she emphasized the importance of the Fulbright Program to her own career trajectory, and shared how Fulbright positively shapes the future of all diverse and multicultural societies.

When she applied for her Fulbright award, she was intrigued by how rapidly the U.S. Government had developed policies around new technologies and gained valuable first-hand experience about how U.S. elected representatives approached this topic.  At the same time that Japan was experiencing its technology-driven economic rise, Fulbright enabled Ms. Kamikawa to serve as a fellow on the policy staff of then-U.S. Senator Max Baucus. She reported that this experience allowed her to “view Japan from the outside” and see a model of how elected officials were able to work to solve critical issues. 

Ms. Kamikawa shared her Fulbright experience and her belief in the importance of international exchange. She cited youth engagement with the world as particularly important in times of division and disparity.

“The Fulbright Program allowed me to obtain a truly diverse experience that was beyond my imagination. It rapidly progressed my career. As torch bearers of our society, I wish that the younger generation would also actively reach out into the world and obtain such experiences.”  

Yoko Kamikawa was previously featured in a video as one of our distinguished Fulbrighters in Public Service

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