• Kyodo News


Junko Kunugi has always had an international profile.

Her father worked as a diplomat and also for the U.N., and she was born in New York and raised in Israel and Switzerland.

Kunugi, 43, later joined UNICEF and worked for the U.N. body in Vietnam, Bangladesh and other countries before becoming head of its Tokyo office in February. Her role in Japan is to appeal to the government and people to extend more aid to children in the world’s poorest countries.

“It is an honor as a Japanese to be able to work here. We would like to further deepen cooperative relations with Japan for children in various parts of the world requiring protection and assistance,” she said in a recent interview.

She has lived in a total of nine countries and visited more than 50. “I love to move around the world because I can learn various things in each country,” she said.

Kunugi joined UNICEF after covering a global summit for children at U.N. headquarters in 1990, when she was a graduate student of journalism at Columbia University.

Before that, she worked for an English-language newspaper in Tokyo for about three years. She is now back living in Japan for the first time in about 20 years.

Although English is the daily language used at the Tokyo office, Kunugi said, “I am going to take this occasion to study the Japanese language.”

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