Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Economist is Japan’s exception as a woman

Yuka Takeda defies the trend in Japan’s male-dominated political world as she discusses Central Asia’s economics, poverty levels and social justice from her experience in Japan, Russia and Kazakhstan

By Mayumi Otsuma  /  Bloomberg

Takeda returned to Japan in 2003, working as a research associate at Tokyo University and teaching at Waseda University and Hitotsubashi University as an assistant professor.

Her work in Russia led to an invitation from the International Labour Organization (ILO) to join a research team in Kazakhstan in 2011 to make a policy recommendation on how to define a subsistence level in the country.

“Takeda’s Russian experience and language skills made her ideal for the post,” said Mariko Ouchi, an official at the ILO’s Country Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, who has known Takeda for more than 10 years. “It was convinced that she was the one who ideally met all of the requirements.”

Her first conference call with fellow project members took place on March 11, 2011, the day of the earthquake that caused the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear reactor. She made three trips to the Central Asian country in the following two years and the Kazakhstan government has used the research to help formulate social-welfare policy.

The daughter of an architect and a housewife in Tokyo, Takeda said she has been interested in issues of fairness and equality since she was a child. She was in high school when she first saw her favorite film: the 1947 Academy Award-winning Gentleman’s Agreement, in which Gregory Peck plays a journalist investigating anti-Jewish discrimination in the US.

“Economics was a way to equip myself with tools to realize social justice,” she said.

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