Haruko Komura said, “I don’t want to be in the forefront of politics. I do want to continue working for peace.”
She is the wife and loyal supporter of Masahiko Komura, newly appointed foreign minister in the Fukuda Cabinet. A lawmaker and senior LDP figure, he served earlier as foreign minister, justice minister and defense minister in previous Cabinets.
His wife continued, “I want to extend a helping hand to needy women and children, so that they are able to look forward with comfort and security to a hopeful future.
“I am grateful every day to be surrounded by many wonderful people, my family, many friends and colleagues who are so supportive and kind to me.”
Komura’s father was a medical doctor. “I was born after the war and grew up in Tokyo,” she said. “I used to spend my summer vacations with my grandparents in Ibaraki Prefecture. My father always joined us there during the Obon summer festival.
“When he came, many people lined up early every morning at the gate, waiting for his attention. Day after day I saw his genuine and hard-working care. I still hear people saying, ‘Your father saved my life.’ He always answered, ‘It is nothing. I am a doctor.’ That is how I remember him.”
Komura was strongly influenced by the strict Catholic education she received at Sacred Heart University. She was in her junior year when she met the man who would become her husband. “We married right after my graduation and had three children,” she said. “Then 10 years after we married my husband became a member of the Diet. Life changed dramatically.”
Komura was obliged to live a more public life. “It was hard at first, but then I found the tension was rather pleasant. I broadened my experience through more direct contact with society. That was my first step, although I was still busy with my children at home and helping my husband in his district.”
Blossoming where she was planted, Komura was drawn into wider, leadership circles. She met foreign diplomats, and became friendly with their wives. “With the wife of the Djibouti ambassador, I helped organize a group of 12 Japanese-speaking wives of envoys,” she said. “We held several meetings and had day trips. We learned about each other, and built enduring friendships.
“I introduced the Japanese tea ceremony as part of our culture to the members, who became very interested. A tea house was set up at the Aichi Expo in 2005 and the ambassadors’ wives demonstrated the tea ceremony to both Japanese and foreign visitors.”
In 1998, Komura began supporting the group Peace Links Japan. She said, ” We exchanged visits with different women’s groups abroad, one in Malaysia, one of Chinese women leaders, one of politicians’ wives in Russia.
“This month we are welcoming the Russian group. In our workshops we discuss education, nutrition, child and literacy problems, environmental issues. When a group from overseas comes to Japan, we always take the women to Hiroshima to see the atomic bomb memorial. We want them to realize how strongly the Japanese people, the only victims of the atomic bomb, value peace.”
In 2006, Komura accepted the presidency of the Asia-Pacific Ladies Friendship Society. This organization was founded 39 years ago by Mutsuko Miki, widow of former Prime Minister Takeo Miki. From its inception, the society aimed to strengthen understanding and friendship among women of the Asia-Pacific region.
“When I decided to accept the presidency of ALFS, I determined to keep developing it by following its long history and accomplishments,” Komura said.
“We have many cross-cultural activities, and through them friendship grows and understanding deepens. The fruits of our efforts are sent across the oceans to each country of the region where women, children and victims of floods, earthquakes and other catastrophes await our help.
“We believe that our efforts make a foundation of energy for people of the next generation.”
Today, ALFS counts 24 member countries and a general membership that approaches 300. It maintains a welfare fund for regular donations to institutions in each member country and an emergency relief fund earmarked for natural disaster victims. To support its fundraising, it has a range of activities and events which includes an annual festival and charity bazaar.
“It’s like the eternal flow of the Mekong River, which we saw as a life line of Laos when we visited there,” Komura said. “ALFS continues to advance steadily and calmly, never ceasing its activities.”