Profile

October 29, 1999

REUTERS People is edited by Harriet Swain and researched by Lynne Williams.

Send all information to Lynne Williams The THES Admiral House 66-68 East Smithfield London E1W 1BX Tel 0171 782 3375 Email lynne.williams @newsint.co.uk Full listings of grants, appointments and honours appear on The THES website Netgazette@thesis.co.uk IN THE NEWS 'He takes over at a controversial time for Unesco ...

a report carried out by the Canadian government reveals widespread nepotism, inefficiency and corruption' Born in Tokyo in 1937, as a child Koichiro Matsuura "experienced the absurdity, horror and emptiness of war which inspired me to commit myself to doing all that I could for world peace". He welcomes his nomination as Unesco's new director-general as an opportunity to fulfil this commitment.

Currently Japanese ambassador to France, Djibouti and Andorra, Matsuura defeated ten other high-profile candidates to replace Spanish biochemist Federico Mayor.

Matsuura is a career diplomat who speaks English, French and Spanish. He studied law and economics before joining the Japanese foreign affairs ministry.

His first foreign assignment was in Ghana from where he covered ten other African states.

As Japan's deputy foreign affairs minister he supported contacts with developing countries. He took charge of the first Tokyo International Conference on African Development, led the Japanese delegation to the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit and played a major role at the Tokyo G7 Summit. Last year he was elected chair of Unesco's world heritage committee.

He takes over at a controversial time for Unesco. As well as criticism from supporters of other candidates that his appointment was a Japanese show of strength in a ruthless battle of bargaining and bribery, the executive board is studying a report into Unesco's management carried out by the Canadian government, which reveals widespread nepotism, inefficiency and corruption.

While it is too soon to know what political changes Matsuura will bring, Unesco's education policies will not change. A year ago the member states adopted an action plan for higher education in the 21st century. Mary-Louise Kearney, in charge of conference follow-up, says Unesco will continue "to educate citizens in self-reliance and entrepreneurial skills".

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