The Asian Web: A New Perspective with the Consul General of Japan in Toronto

Her Excellency Consul General Takako Ito of the Consulate General of Japan in Toronto parallels other diplomats in that she is multilingual, sophisticated, and an expert on issues of importance to her native country. She is unique, however, in that she has an extensive career in foreign policy for over 30 years. Since 1985, Consul General Ito has taken several postings including Embassies in Canada (1988-1991), Malaysia (2001-2003), Indonesia (2010-2011), the Mission of Japan to the United Nations in New York (1997-2001) and the Mission of Japan to ASEAN as Deputy Chief of Mission (2011-2014).

 

Her career has also featured senior roles in Japan, including Principal Deputy Director for Asia Europe Partnership Division, Director of Development Assistance Policy Planning Division, Assistant Press Secretary and Director of International Press Division, and Master of the Ceremonies at Imperial Household Agency, to name only a few.

 

Consul General Ito holds a bachelor’s degree in law from Sophia University in Tokyo and a master’s degree in international affairs from Norman Patterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University. Consul General Ito is married and has two children.

 

 

Interview Questions:

Question 1: Could you start by sharing a little about yourself? How did your background compel you to embark upon a career as a diplomat? – 1:05

 

Question 2: How would you characterize the current state of Canada-Japan relations? When do you feel that Canadian-Japanese relations were at their peak, and what lessons can we learn from that time? – 3:08

 

Question 3: What threats are we, as global citizens, facing on the Korean peninsula? If there are indeed security-related threats, should average Canadians and Japanese be made aware of these recent developments, and the destabilization of regional security and trade? – 5:52

 

Question 4: As Canada increases its economic cooperation in the Asia Pacific region, how important is it for Canada to cooperate with Japan, the Republic of Korea, the People’s Republic of China, the United States of America, and the Russian Federation over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on issues of regional security and stability? – 7:22

 

Question 5: What is Japan’s role in trilateral security cooperation between the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, and Japan? Does Canada have a role to play in this security cooperation? – 8:46

 

Question 6: Does NATO have a role to stabilize developing tensions (For example, territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the North Korean nuclear threat) in the Asia-Pacific region? – 11:06

 

Question 7: With the potential possibility of Japan changing its post-war constitution in 2020, especially Article 9 which forbids the use of force, how would Japan reshape its military in relation to international and regional security, stability, and cooperation? – 13:06

 

Question 8: With Japan being Canada’s oldest diplomatic mission in Asia, exactly 90 years as of 2019, do you feel that Canadians possess an adequate understanding of the uniqueness of Japanese culture and regional dynamics, or do we still have much to learn? – 14:57

 

Question 9: Any final comments before the end of the interview? 16:16

Special appreciation of Consul Mihoko Matsui of the Consulate General of Japan in Toronto and Edward Tat of the NATO Association of Canada for their efforts in making this interview possible.

 

Photo: Her Excellency Consul General Takako Ito of the Consulate General of Japan in Toronto.


Disclaimer: Any views or opinions expressed in articles are solely those of the authors’ and do not necessarily represent the views of the NATO Association of Canada.

About Yun Sik (James) Hwang

Yun Sik (James) Hwang is a Research Analyst (formally the Program Editor of Security, Trade and the Economy) and a contemporary Korean Affairs Specialist at the NATO Association of Canada. After his M.A. career (2016) from the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto, he was invited as a speaker and presenter in multiple conferences, events, and symposiums to examine the controversial political and social developments of South Korean nationalism and its entanglements with North Korea that have been intensified as political and social conflicts between the political left and right in the Republic of Korea. With a specific focus on the contemporary Korean Peninsula and the recent intensification of North Korean nuclear threat, his work seeks to address the political, social, and international challenges in the Asia-Pacific region under various competing perspectives. He can be reached at: yunsik.hwang@alum.utoronto.ca