AT 2 p.m. today, the new Consul-General of Japan in Hagåtña, Mr. Hisatsugu Shimizu, will pay his respects to Gov. Eddie Calvo, his first official meeting with one of the island’s political leaders.
The Variety had a chance to sit down with Shimizu yesterday, and learned that the 59-year-old diplomat comes to Guam with quite an interesting background and a unique set of qualifications.
Before joining Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a young man, he had originally wanted to become a ship’s captain and studied navigation.
Soon after, he entered the diplomatic service; however, the first oil shock hit in 1973, and the ministry realized it urgently needed more Arab specialists. Shimizu was chosen to be one of them, and he underwent a crash course in the Arabic language.
His first posting was to Egypt for three years from 1976, where he had the chance to have a kind of front row seat for the historic Camp David peace process. This was followed by three years in Qatar, before he returned to Japan in 1982.
His next overseas posting was to Jordan during the first Gulf War. At that time, Japan did not dispatch any troops, but it did provide a large amount of funding, especially for the support of the large number of Iraqis displaced by the fighting, and Shimizu was one of the people responsible for overseeing this relief effort.
After such a difficult posting, he was rewarded by the ministry with several years in Los Angeles, overseeing the JET English teacher program. This was supposed to be a very relaxed and easy position, but soon after Shimizu’s arrival, he was greeted by the Los Angeles riots and a huge earthquake.
After that he was brought back to Tokyo to work on a variety of post-conflict international aid projects often in cooperation with the United Nations.
In 2003, it was back to the Middle East for an even more demanding posting – as a counter-terrorism specialist in Yemen. The philosophy that guided him in this effort, however, had little to do with guns and bombs. Rather it was, in his own words, “Poverty is the cradle of terrorism. To eradicate terrorism, we have to provide assistance to the people.”
From there he was dispatched again to the “geopolitically important country” of Jordan. This was in the midst of the second Iraq war, and again he was deeply involved with providing assistance to the half-million displaced Iraqis who were then in Jordan. This time, however, his task was mainly coordinating Japanese aid money provided to the Jordanian government for the task.
For the past several years, Shimizu has been back in Tokyo, doing mainly internal work for the ministry.
And now, having arrived last Saturday, he is here on Guam.
When Variety asked if he thought he might be involved with some buildup-related projects, or SDF training exercises, Shimizu replied that he wonders about that himself, but that the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam is certainly a very important matter.
As Shimizu sees it, his main tasks on the island will be to help ensure the safety of the roughly 4,000 Japanese residents of Guam and 800,000 Japanese tourists who visit the island annually, and also to work for the continued good relations between Guam and Japan. He would also like to help increase the number of Japanese tourists coming to the island.
Also, he definitely plans to continue the tradition of attending as many of the upcoming ceremonies for WWII victims as possible and offering his prayers and respect. On a more personal level, Shimizu is looking forward to enjoying some of the excellent golf courses on the island, as well as the “lovely tropical breeze and beautiful nature.”
When asked for his first impression of Guam, Shimizu replied, “cozy, lovely ... I feel at home. The people are friendly and the breeze is lovely.”
In closing, he wanted to take the opportunity to “express our sincere appreciation for the contributions from the people of Guam following the disasters.”