On June 2, Hiroshi Kawamura assumed the post of ambassador in charge of Okinawa affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after serving as Japan’s top diplomat at Cote d’Ivoire, located adjacent to Ghana in West Africa, for three years and nine months. He joined MOFA in 1981 and spent nearly 20 years overseas, including France, Myanmar and Cambodia.
In 2000, Japan hosted the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit. At the time, Kawamura was in the post of Cultural Affairs Department First Cultural Affairs Division director at MOFA. In those days, he spearheaded efforts to promote Okinawa culture, such as Ryukyu dance, to the world and send local singers and dancers to summit participating countries. He was later posted to Cambodia, where he also took charge of accepting performance groups from Okinawa. “I had strong connections with Okinawa,” he said.
Soon after Kawamura was seconded to the Hyogo prefectural government office, he visited the Shimamori Monument (Shimamori no to) at Mabuni, Okinawa, and offered prayers to Akira Shimada, who was the last government-appointed Okinawa governor and died in the battle of Okinawa during World War II.
When a crash accident involving a U.S. Air Force F-15 fighter jet occurred on June 11, Kawamura had to immerse himself into offering explanations and making apologies rather than making a round of visits to local authorities to introduce himself as new ambassador in charge of Okinawa affairs. The Okinawa prefectural assembly and the Kadena town assembly lodged protests with the U.S. military. However, the U.S. military rejected their protests. According to Kawamura, he therefore made a strong proposal to the U.S. military, saying: “You cannot achieve the goal without the understanding of the local communities. It’s important to communicate.”
With regards to the “Think of Okinawa’s Future in the U.S. (TOFU)” program, which sends local senior high school and college students to the U.S. for studies, he passionately said: “We sent 20 last year, and we want to send more this year. The return of participants from the U.S. should not become the end of the program. We should give more focus on follow-up programs to cherish the created bonds.”
He has two children. One is an adult and the other is a college student. They live in the Kanto region. He moved to Okinawa with his wife. He hails from Iwate Prefecture and turned 60 on June 27.