Giving up your nationality is not something to be taken lightly, especially in a society like Japan where so much of one's identity is tied to citizenship. For Bolivian-born Noemi Inoue it was a necessary step to feel fully integrated in society here and to become the first person not born Japanese to serve as a city councilor in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward.

In the process, she has learned about the inner workings of the city's administrative system and the mindset of those working to effect change. In finding her own voice in Japan as a foreign-born resident of Tokyo, Inoue is now in a position to give a voice to others.

Born in La Paz, Bolivia, Inoue enjoyed a high-flying career in social development before marriage brought her to Japan. After starting out with the country's central bank after university, Inoue went on work as an analyst and financial specialist for the United Nations Development Programme in La Paz. She subsequently moved to the organization's New York office, where her role expanded to include regional development projects all over South America. The UNDP works around the globe to eliminate poverty and promote sustainable development.