Attorney (former director of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau) and visiting professor at Osaka University
Masahiro Sakata was born in Wakayama City, where he attended Johoku Elementary School and Fukko Junior High School. His parents ran a fruit and vegetable wholesale business in the city until 2000. His wife is also from Wakayama (she graduated from Toin High School).
After graduating from the Faculty of Law at the University of Tokyo, he joined the former Ministry of Finance in 1966. After serving as an assistant vice-minister in the Minister’s Secretariat, he was transferred to the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, which he headed during the administration of Junichiro Koizumi. After retiring from public service in 2006, he’s been involved in social welfare activities, for example by serving as the chairperson of the Japan Deafblind Association, while working as an advisor at a major law office. He continues to speak on topics related to constitutional issues, for example the right of collective self-defense and the abdication of the emperor, both in talks at locations throughout Japan and through various media. Book he has authored include Seifu no Kenpo Kaishaku and Ho no Bannin: Naikakuhoseikyoku no Kyoji.
For me, Kosayan is a sacred place.
It might be difficult for young people to imagine today, but in the 1970s, there was no air conditioning anywhere, not in central government buildings, and certainly not in regular households. I took my college entrance examination 10 years before that, and even if it wasn’t as hot then as it is now, the extreme heat of summer posed formidable challenges for students as they prepared for the test. During summer vacation when I was a senior in high school, my parents arranged for me to spend about a month in a room at a Shukubo lodgings in Koyasan, where I retreated with my books to study. There weren’t any cram schools at the time, so my passing of the exam was the result of the time I spent studying in the cool air and quiet of Koyasan and, even more importantly, the miraculous help of Kukai. A half-century later, the cool stones leading to Okuno-in, cloaked in darkness despite the morning hour, still appear before my eyes.
I only know a small part of the Kumano Kodo, but I was able to experience its mysterious sublimity. It is my hope that more people, Japanese and foreigners alike, will visit Kii, where the gods dwell.