History of FEW Series: Past FEW Speakers

By Raena Murakami, Public Relations and Communications Co-Director

For the second part of our History of FEW series, we’re taking a look back at past speakers at FEW. We’ve highlighted just a handful of the many impressive leaders that have shared their insights and experiences with the FEW community. These speakers are from the years leading up to 1998, and we’ll be featuring more speakers later in the series.

Many of these women overcame overwhelming obstacles and challenges to make their mark and get to where they are today. These inspirational women have made an enormous impact on their respective industries and have paved the way for Japanese and international women today.

We’ve got another great year of inspiring and thought-provoking speakers and events coming up. Learn more out about our upcoming events at


few1Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo

Speaker Topic:  Reading the Political Tea Leaves, A new Diet and a new Prime Minister

About: Yuriko Koike broke ground last August when she was elected as the first female governor of Tokyo. After her win, Ms. Koike vowed to pursue policies that will promote better conditions for women, saying, “I believe that pushing policies for women will be good for Tokyo and bring happiness to the capital.” Ms. Koike served as environment minister from 2003 to 2006 under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and initiated the Cool Biz campaign, encouraging office workers to dress casually during the summer to reduce electricity use. She was also Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for National Security from 2006 and became Japan’s first female Defense Minister in July 2007. Ms. Koike began her career as a TV presenter and graduated from Cairo University, Egypt. She has written books and articles on Japanese politics, international affairs and career women’s networking.

few2Kumi Sato, President and CEO, Cosmo Public Relations

Speaker Topic:  How Foreign Women Can Use Their Uniqueness to Work More Effectively in Japan

About: Kumi Sato has been President of COSMO since 1987 and helped the company develop its international focus. Ms. Sato has been an advocate for workplace equality, launching one of the first websites in Japan dedicated to the empowerment of women, “I just want to tell women here that there is a price to pay, of course, but staying in the game is actually in the long run incredibly rewarding, and also really good for the family,” Ms. Sato said in a 2011 Japan Times article. Ms. Sato has been recognized numerous times for her leadership in business and has been an active participant in several committees and boards, including the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, the Asia Society Global Council, the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), and the nonprofit organization Genron.

few5Mitsu Kimata, Director-CEO of Empowering Women Empowering Society (JKSK) and former CEO of the Body Shop Japan

Speaker Topic:  Importing Foreign Business Methods and Concepts and Making Them Successful in Japan; Japan and the Environment

About: Mitsu Kimata has spent her life championing women’s empowerment. Her life’s motto, based on advice her father instilled early on, is, “Be positive. Don’t rely on other people. Become a person other people can rely on.” Ms. Kimata graduated from Tokyo University with a medical degree, after which she had a successful 15-year career in charge of international technical cooperation at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. She went on to represent the Japanese Mission to the United Nations in the mid-’80s and, starting in 1990, served as CEO of the Body Shop Japan for a decade. Ms. Kimata established the nonprofit Empowering Women Empowering Society (JKSK), focusing on such issues as ‘Diversity Promotion’ and ‘Work & Life Balance Development.’ Her hope is for educated women to take the lead: “We have a past of leaving things up to men, but we must put a period at the end of this history of underutilizing women’s talents, power, energy, and sensitivity, and work vigorously toward realizing a 50–50 society,” she said in 2015.

few3Mary Walsh, National Security Producer for CBS News

Speaker Topic:  Experiences as a Female Journalist in Asia; Running CBS’s News Operation during the Gulf War in Jordan

About: From 1989 to 1993, as CBS News producer in Tokyo, Mary Walsh was responsible for news coverage in all parts of Asia – with focus on China, Korea, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Japan. Now national security producer for CBS News, the Emmy winner produces stories for “The CBS Evening News” and “60 Minutes.” Ms. Walsh has also been assigned to the Pentagon since 1993 covering the American military throughout Southeast Asia, Europe and the Middle East. When asked in 2006 if she could change anything about the journalism profession, Ms. Walsh said, “I would go back to the days when television news was considered a public service and not a profit center for the networks. Sometimes we worry too much about how much a story will cost rather than the best way to cover it.”

few8Junko Tabei (1939 – 2016), Mountain Climber

Speaker Topic:  Experiences in being the first woman to scale Mt. Everest

About: Junko Tabei defied expectations and set a groundbreaking feat as the first woman to climb Mt. Everest in 1975. “There was never a question in my mind that I wanted to climb that mountain, no matter what other people said,” she told the Japan Times in 2012. In 1992, Ms. Tabei also became the first woman to mount the Seven Summits by climbing the highest peak on every continent. Her interest in mountaineering was piqued, she said, at age 10 on a school field trip to climb Mount Asahi and Mount Chausu. After graduating with a degree in English literature from Showa Women’s University in Tokyo, she devoted herself full time to mountaineering. She later focused on environmentalism, doing postgraduate work on the degradation of mountain terrain caused by garbage and human waste left behind by climbers, and she directed the Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan. Since 2012, Tabei had climbed Mount Fuji each summer with high schoolers from northeastern Japan, including students from her birthplace in the Fukushima region, an area severely affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

few6Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times Washington Bureau Chief

Speaker Topic:  The World of Indian Women of All Castes and Experiences Living in a Small Indian Village

About: Elisabeth Bumiller is the Washington Editor of The New York Times, where she oversees White House and domestic policy reporting. Ms. Bumiller has been with The New York Times since 1995, having covered the Pentagon, Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, and had a weekly column from 2001 to 2006 about the behind-the-scenes events of the presidency. Previously, she was with the Washington Post for 13 years, including as Tokyo Bureau Chief, New Delhi correspondent and Washington social and political writer for the Style section. Ms. Bumiller is the author of three books: Condoleezza Rice: An American Life; May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons: A Journey Among the Women of India and The Secrets of Mariko: A Year in the Life of a Japanese Woman and Her Family. In response to not bowing to pressure, Ms. Bumiller, said in 2005 that the key is perseverance and a refusal to give in: “At every press conference I stand up every time and ask a question,” Bumiller says. “No matter what.”


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