Noemi Inoue is the first foreign-born woman to be elected as a local councillor in Japan. Originally from Bolivia, Noemi talks about how her ikigai around public service led to her starting an NPO, changing her nationality and then becoming a three-time elected politician in Sumida ward in Tokyo.
We had some issues with sound quality as is the joy of online recording but I loved hearing about Noemi’s story as a proud Sumida resident who is not ready to give up my British passport. I am in awe of her!
And so impressive to be interviewed in her third language too. I hope you enjoy it!
2:50 From Bolivia to Tokyo
5:30 Coming back to the workforce after 10 years
6:40 Mr Inoue suggests “why don’t you become Japanese and work for the UN?!”
7:20 And now why don’t you become a councillor?!
8:20 Changing nationality as part of a commitment to her Ikigai
11:40 Rights and Obligations
12:58 The trigger between idea and action to run for office
15:01 Seeing the challenges of foreigner living in Japan and wanting to ease that
17:00 “It’s not part of my job…” but doing it anyway from an act of service
20:50 Motivation to support those in needs in daily life
22:30 Being a voice for the disenfranchised
22:42 Talking about the Sumida Koen renewal project
25:55 Challenges as a politician - how Noemi keeps going
28:42 Her secret weapon - an approachable politician!
30:30 Being not only a councillor but a friend
31:55 Where does she get her energy from?
33:21 Advice for foreigners in Japan
35:08 Taking your first step in public service
38:30 Noemi announces the next iteration of her Ikigai! (just kidding!)
Noemi Inoue, Born in La Paz, Bolivia in December 5th 1961.
Noemi Inoue completed her studies at the San Andres University where she majored in Economics. She started a high-powered career at the Banco Central de Bolivia which she left years later for a career at the United Nations, a move, she calls, “the turning point in my life.”
Eighteen years ago, Noemi moved from New York city to Tokyo to become the first non-Japan born woman to join local politics. Currently, she holds the official post as Councillor of Sumida ku which Noemi describes as "a busy but rewarding career."