The new rector of United Nations University in Tokyo, David Malone, says he aims to raise the profile of the institution during his five-year term.

“It is our responsibility to explain ourselves and our work to Japanese citizens who host us here,” said Malone, who in March became the sixth head of the university, located in Shibuya Ward.

Founded in 1975, the university is the academic arm of the United Nations, focusing on research, teaching, capacity-building and advisory services.

Malone, who holds the rank of U.N. undersecretary-general, said he recognizes the institution is still not very well known in Japan. But he believes it “can live up to its mission as the principle think tank of the United Nations, which requires us to contribute to debate on big policy challenges facing the U.N.”

A native of Ottawa, Malone, 59, has served as Canadian ambassador and deputy permanent representative to the United Nations as well as Canada’s high commissioner to India, among other roles.

As an expert in national security, he also stressed the university should “play a stronger role on peace and security issues” in U.N. debates, in addition to conventional agendas such as sustainability in developing countries.

He explained that one of the reasons he applied for his current post was simply because he longed for “an opportunity to live in Japan for five years.”

Malone said the country has been “successful in reinventing itself” after World War II and “generating its own economic miracle.” Japan thus has “some responsibility for (the) development of” other countries, he noted.

A keen lover of walking, Malone said he liked Tokyo instantly.

“Tokyo is one of the best walking cities in the world, (with) big sidewalks, safe, beautiful parks and interesting neighborhoods,” he said. “I knew immediately that I was going to be very happy (in the city).”

An official at the university expressed high expectations for Malone’s leadership, while describing him as “having a cheerful and casual character.”

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