Nour Eldin Sultan, 50, is the first Arab Muslim to have been elected into a local prefectural assembly in Japan. Born in Syria and raised in Egypt, Sultan became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 2013 and was voted into the Shonai Town Assembly in Yamagata Prefecture as a councilor in 2021.

1. What brought you to Japan? In Egypt, I worked for the Ministry of Youth and Sport and as a swim coach. Through my job, I met numerous JICA volunteers who encouraged me to apply for a cultural education exchange program to teach swimming here in Yamagata for 10 months.

2. How did you end up staying here? Even after the program, I never stopped thinking about Yamagata. I eventually was able to come back to Japan to continue my studies in Tsukuba. However, after just one year, I still longed for Yamagata and so I decided to move back for work.