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President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE)
After graduating from Keio University with a BA in law, Akio Okawara joined Sumitomo Corporation in 1973. During the span of his 40-year career with the company, he served in the automotive, overseas transport, and other departments. He was seconded in the 1980s to Los Angeles to serve as assistant to the president of Mazda Motors America, and in 1991–1997 he was posted as director of business development in Washington DC. Back in Tokyo, he headed Sumitomo’s Information Analysis and Research Department. In 2004, he was posted to the Sumitomo Shoji Research Institute, and he served as the executive director of the institute from 2006 to 2013.
In April 2014, Okawara became president and CEO of JCIE. He currently serves as a panel member of the US-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON) and is a member of the Foundation Council of the Japanese-German Center Berlin. He also serves as Japanese director of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group, and as a member of Japanese-German Forum and the Korea-Japan Forum. In the global health field, Okawara serves as director of the Global Health and Human Security Program Executive Committee, and director of the Friends of the Global Fund, Japan (FGFJ).