In 17 years as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi has seen the worst of what could happen to children around the world.

On a recent trip to Liberia, the veteran actress and TV celebrity met a 10-year-old soldier carrying a gun who had been brainwashed into thinking it was fun to kill people. At another time she was left speechless after meeting a 12-year-old girl in Haiti who worked as a prostitute to feed her starving family.

"Children are going through such plights though they have nothing to be blamed for," Kuroyanagi told the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan on Thursday. "It is very important that adults make sure not to create political confusion. If politics are not going well, children are the ones who suffer."