Sadako Ogata (1927 - )
The Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in
Profile of Sadako Ogata
Sadako Ogata was born on 16 September 1927 in Tokyo, Japan. Ogata, as United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), assisted in repatriating African National Congress (ANC) cadres who were in exile in the early 1990s. She was the leader of the UN observer delegation to the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) in Johannesburg.
Ogata is respected throughout the world as an impassioned supporter of refugees and displaced people. She has been a tireless champion of the dispossessed victims of war and through her actions has made an indelible contribution to improving the lives of South Africans, Africans and dispossessed people all over the world.
Ogata came to South Africa at the end of 1991 to head the UN delegation to the Codesa multiparty talks that enabled a peaceful and orderly democratic transition in South Africa and where she was a permanent observer. It was during this time that Ogata met Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and the leadership of the ANC and key participants in the talks. Her initial contacts developed into friendships, solidarity and long-standing relationships with the political leadership of South Africa.
She played an important role in the opening of the first UN office in South Africa. The UNHCR, which she headed during the 1990s, opened an office in Johannesburg in September 1991. Ogata and the UNHCR facilitated the voluntary return of South African refugees and exiles between 1991 and 1993. Ogata, as president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) since October 2003, has ensured that South Africa’s unique development cooperation needs are accommodated. Ogata’s friendship, commitment and drive have strengthened Japan’s engagement with South Africa. She has contributed to JICA, expanding its cooperation with this country and was instrumental in a Japan Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (Jipsa) Working Group in Tokyo in December 2006 to support the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgisa).
This contributed to JICA’s establishment of the African Institute for Capacity Development – South African Chapter, to focus on priority skills development in South Africa in 2007. It is envisaged that a second phase of this project will expand training opportunities to countries in southern Africa.
She also played a major role in getting the Government of Japan to increase overseas development assistance funding by US$10 billion, particularly to Africa, since 2005.Ogata’s unique contribution to building a better world and assisting refugees and internally displaced people has been recognised by a number of countries and organisations. She is honoured today for her friendship and solidarity towards South Africa, Africa and the advancement of the African Agenda.