Katsuhiko Oku

Ambassador Katsuhiko Oku was born in Hyogo in 1958. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 1981, after his graduation from Waseda University. He trained in the United Kingdom and went on to work for the Japanese Embassy in Iran and in the United States. He also held prominent positions such as the Chief of the First International Economic Affairs Division and the Chief of the United Nations Policy Division. He visited Iraq on an extended business trip in April 2003 as the Counsellor of the Embassy of Japan in the United Kingdom and immediately threw himself into the work of reconstructing Iraq. You can find his sense of mission and his passion to see Iraq recover in a series of articles entitled 'Iraku dayori (Letter from Iraq)', he had written as the Embassy's newsletter until his tragic death. On 29 November 2003, Katsuhiko Oku was fatally shot in the southern area of Tikrit in Iraq. He was posthumously promoted to Ambassador.

Mr Oku had a special passion for rugby. He attended the rugby national convention when he was at Hyogo Prefectural Itami High School and also played for Waseda University. He later became the first Japanese national to play for the Blues XV during his time at Hertford College. Mr Oku was a long-standing member of the Japan RFU International Committee and made considerable effort to support exchange between Japan and rugby unions of countries throughout the world.

The underlying theories of rugby that Mr Oku loved were 'Noblesse oblige' (The idea that someone with power and influence should use their social position to help other people) and "all for one, one for all". The values he loved in rugby were clearly with him when he visited Iraq before anyone else to provide reconstruction aid.

Mr Oku had a great aptitude for building a network of personal connections. There are a lot of episodes that show the wide range of relationships he had. He made a lot of friends in Iraq in only a few months and was loved by all. Many people with diverse nationalities including Iraqi, British, American and Dutch saw him as a lifelong friend. In addition, he made efforts in forming a rugby team of the parliamentary members and having an international match. This was brought about by his varied network of personal contacts and his passion for an international exchange through rugby.

Mr Oku was also a man of action. With the strong belief that, "A diplomat must not be a critic. It is not until visiting the sites that you can conduct proper diplomacy" he visited over 100 countries around the world. This is some achievement, even allowing for the fact that he was a diplomat. He was known to make quite caustic remarks to those people who didn't give local people any opportunity to speak or didn't try to see beyond preconceived ideas. He always wanted to know exactly what was going on in the field and what the requests of the local people were, so he could think about what he could do to support them.

He had found hope in Iraqi children's shining eyes and dedicated himself to Iraq's reconstruction. He writes in Iraku dayori that "There is hope for Iraq's future; we can find it in the brightly shining eyes of the children". He never lost hope for the children there even though he was fully aware of difficulties ahead.

1958 1/3 Born on 3 January in 1958.
1964   Entered Takarazuka municipal Takarazuka elementary school.
1970   Entered Takarazuka munincipal Takarazuka junior high school.
Joined the baseball club. Captained the team in his third year.
1973   Entered Hyogo Prefectural Itami high school. Joined the rugby team.
Played in Hanazono in his second year. Captained the team in his third year.
1977   Entered Department of Political Science in School of Political Science and Economics at Waseda University. Joined the rugby team.
1978   Left his previous rugby team. Joined the rugby team of School of Science and Engineering at Waseda University.
1981   Joined the Foreign Ministry.
1982   Studied at Hertford College in Oxford University. Joined the rugby team.
1983 2/26 Scored a try to help the team win a game with Nuneaton in Buckinghamshire, by a score of 21 to 19.
  3/4 Took on the game with 'The Rugby Football Club' and scored a try in two consecutive games. The team won the game 16-8.
  3/6 Sent a letter to his university professor Tetsunosuke Onishi to talk about his feeling about the study and rugby in Oxford.
  3/12 Played against two teams including Dublin in the away game with Ireland.
  4 The chief editor of 'Number' at the time contributed an article called 'A Japanese student of Oxford University got a historic try' in 'RUGBY FOOTBALL', the journal of Japan Rugby Football Union.
  7 A signed article titled 'Aim for the first Japanese-born player to appear in the 'blue' match' is run in the August issue of 'Rugby Magazine'.
1985   Served on the Tour Committee of Japan East Rugby Football Union.
Played a role as a bridge between Japan and Britain in rugby.
1991   During the Gulf War, undertook information gathering as a Second Secretary at the Embassy of Japan in Iran.
Held the positions such as First Secretary at the Embassy of Japan in Washington DC, the chief of the United Nations Policy Division in Foreign Policy Bureau.
1996   Served on the International Committee of Japan Rugby Football Union.
1998   The interview spot 'My two old schools' was published in June issue of 'Rugby Magazine'.
1999   Served on the General Affairs Committee of Japan Rugby Football Union.
2000 4/8 Gave the speech at the entrance ceremony of the Waseda University rugby team. (The later captain Otao attended the ceremony as a freshmen.)
2001 4/8 Appointed the councillor of the embassy of Japan in the United Kingdom.
2002   Served on the Public Relations Committee of Japan Rugby Football Union. (Overseas Division)
    Invented a slogan 'ULTIMATE CRUSH' with Kiyomiya coach while on Waseda University expedition to the United Kingdom.
2003 4 Dispatched to the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) in Iraq.

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