Yukio Okamoto, my "big brother," mentor and role model, passed away on April 24. It was almost midnight on May 7 when a parliamentarian friend abruptly called to say that Okamoto had reportedly lost his life to COVID-19. It was one of the saddest and longest nights in my life.

For those who may not know of Okamoto, he was a Japanese foreign service officer who served as an adviser to Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto in the 1990s and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in the 2000s. Born and raised in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, which is famous for its beaches, Okamoto’s love for the ocean was deep.

It is gratifying to know that many have written so many good things about him. A New York Times reporter wrote a beautiful obituary for him. The Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington published a heartwarming commentary titled “Remembering Yukio Okamoto.” Nikkei Asian Review carried an obituary written by the business daily's former political editor.