About the Mission

Message from Ambassador Ihara

Ambassador Ihara presenting his credentials to Mr. Moller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (January 12, 2016) →UNOG Home Page


H.E. Ambassador Junichi Ihara took up his duties as the successor of H.E. Ambassador Yoichi Otabe in January 2016. Over the ten years prior to assuming his new post, Ambassador Ihara worked primarily on bilateral relations between Japan and the United States as well as between Japan and countries in the Asia-Pacific region.


Message from Ambassador Ihara

Welcome to the website of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Geneva.

As of the time of writing, less than two months have passed since taking up my position as Ambassador here. During this time, my initial impression has been the diversity of the work carried out by our Mission. Working with such a braod range of international organizations on so many important issues is challenging, but at the same time rewarding and has allowed me to approach my work with a fresh outlook and renewed energy.


The City of Geneva is home to the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) as well as many international and intergovernmental organizations, and accordingly hosts a large number of diplomatic missions. These diplomatic missions have the important role of promoting the multilateral profile and interests of their country or region, while upholding the values and principles of the international community. Our mission comprises approximately 50 diplomats and 40 locally employed staff, representing different governmental sectors at meetings of the UN and other international organizations.


Geneva is home to the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), the Human Rights Council, and more than 20 international organizations. These include the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The personnel of the Mission of Japan engage daily with these groups on a diverse array of issues in various fields including: human rights, telecommunications, the environment and disaster reduction.


Each organization plays a significant role in its field. For example, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) leverages its extensive meteorological network and expertise to provide essential scientific data for the international debate on climate change. I would also like to point out that here in Geneva almost 150 Japanese nationals are currently actively contributing as working professionals to the different international organizations in Geneva, including the United Nations.


Also, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the work of these various organizations within and related to the UN System is closely interlinked and covers a very broad range of issues. Taking the Syrian refugees issue for example, this is a political and humanitarian issue that extends beyond Syria's borders to include questions such as how to assist countries in the region that are not hosting refugees.
Looking at the situation from the humanitarian standpoint alone reveals a wide array of challenges. These include providing assistance to help people living in conflict zones avoid becoming refugees in the first place, ensuring the safety of refugees in transit, meeting the basic human needs of refugees in temporary settlements, and providing education and employment assistance to address protracted refugees situations. Several international organizations are presently collaborating to address these issues, and there is an increasing focus on the need to strenghten the hitherto insufficienly developed nexus between humanitarian and development assistance.

Another important area of work at the Mission is representing Japan at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Since replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1995, this intergovernmental organization has been at the heart of the multilateral trading system. At the WTO, the multilateral trade negotiations of the Doha Development Agenda that were first launched in 2001 have long been at an impasse. However, on a positive note, some progress was made at the Ninth and Tenth WTO Ministerial Conferences, held respectively in bali in december 2013 and Nairobi in December 2015.
Since Nairobi, informal discussions have been taking place on how to go beyond the existing frameworks and move forward with trade negotiations. While these exchanges remain at the level of brainstorming, they reflect a renewed focus on the role of international trade, including trade in services, in revitalizing the stagnant global economy. What can the WTO deliver for the global economy? In order to address this question, I believe the following is particularly important. We must listen carefully to the voices of industry and civil society. Then, without getting caught up in stereotypical north/south confrontations, we must hold rational discussions on what is truly necessary, realistic, effective and meaningful for the development of international trade.

In closing, I believe that an important part of our role at the Mission of Japan is to share information to promote a better understanding among the general public of the work of the aforementioned international and intergovernmental organizations as well as that of our Mission. I hope that this message has given you some understanding of the kinds of challenges that we set out to address each day at the Mission of Japan. I look forward to keeping you updated on our work here in Geneva through this website.


Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Ihara Junichi IHARA Junichi
(April 18, 1956 Kyoto Prefecture)

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Representative of Japan to the International Organizations in Geneva
1978  November Passed Higher Diplomatic Service Examination
1979  March Graduated from Faculty of Law, Kyoto University
  April Joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1997 July Director, First Southeast Asia Division, Asian Affairs Bureau
1999 August Director, WTO Division, Economic Affairs Bureau
2002  July Director, Financial Affairs Division, Minister's Secretariat
2004  February Councilor for Inspection
  July Minister, Embassy of Japan in the United States of America
2006 December Deputy Director- General、
Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau
2008 March Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles
2011 September Director- General, North American Affairs
2013 June Director- General, Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau
2015 November Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Japan to the International Organizations

Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the International Organizations and Chief of the Consulate of Japan in Geneva

Ken Okaniwa was appointed Ambassador / Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to international organizations and Chief of Consulate Office in Geneva on 1 July 2018. He was previously Consul General of Japan in Miami.


Having joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1984, Mr. Okaniwa has extensive experience in multilateral negotiations, development issues, public diplomacy and crisis management.


As regards multilateral negotiations, he was the Director in charge of climate change when Japan ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002. Prior to that, he had worked on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, non-proliferation of weapons and UN conferences on population, social development and women. His first overseas posting was at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations in New York in 1994-1998.


As regards development, he was Director in charge of multilateral development institutions such as the UNDP, World Bank and OECD/DAC. He was also Director responsible for formulating Medium term ODA policy, ODA initiatives on water, gender and natural disaster reduction. As for overseas postings, he was in charge of economic affairs and development at the Embassy of Japan in Zambia, Indonesia and South Africa. In 2014-2015, he was Deputy Director-General for international cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


As regards public diplomacy, he was Deputy Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs in 2014-2015. At the Embassy of Japan in London, he was the Director of the Japan Information and Cultural Centre in 2008-2011.


From 2013 to 2014, he was Councillor in charge of security and crisis management at the Cabinet Secretariat.


Mr. Okaniwa received a B.A. in Law at Hitotsubashi University, and a B.A. in Modern History at Oxford University.