Mr. Yukio Okamoto, a diplomat and diplomatic analyst, who served as Special Advisor to Prime Ministers Ryutaro Hashimoto (1996-1998) and Junichiro Koizumi (2001-2006), passed away on April 24 after contracting the new coronavirus. I was astonished at the news. He has contributed to the Japanese government in overcoming many diplomatic difficulties, making full use of his deep diplomatic knowledge, accurate judgement and communication skills. As a diplomacy commentator on TV programs, he always provided clear explanations which enabled the viewers to easily understand complicated issues. He had many fans.
I have been acquainted with him for many years. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in 1968, two years before I started working at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). He had been posted in Paris, France, when my colleagues and I visited there on a business trip, and I still remember we drank together there all night long. About 20 years later, he resigned his position as director of the First North America Division, and visited my office to greet me. I had just become a politician as a member of the House of Representatives. I shared my experiences of the difficulty I faced when I started afresh as a politician right after resigning the administrative official, and I talked about how I overcame the difficulty. He did well as I had expected. He served as Special Advisor to two Prime Ministers mentioned above and frequently delivered lectures at the headquarters of the Liberal Democratic Party, and until recently he has been active as a distinguished diplomatic analyst.
I am deeply upset that Mr. Yukio Okamoto passed away after contracting the new coronavirus. I pray his soul will sleep in peace.