President of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies and specially appointed professor at the University of Tokyo
Kazuhiko Takeuchi was born in Wakayama City. He graduated from the Faculty of Science at the University of Tokyo in 1974 and then from the university’s Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences in 1976. After serving as an assistant in the Tokyo Metropolitan University’s Faculty of Science, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Agriculture, and in other positions, he served as a professor in the university’s Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences from 1997 to 2012. From 2008 to 2016, he served as vice president and then as senior vice president of United Nations University. From 2012 to 2019, he served as president of the University of Tokyo Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science. He became president of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies in 2017 and a specially appointed professor at the University of Tokyo Institute for Future Initiatives in 2019. He has also served in a number of other positions, including chairman of the Central Environment Council, Vice President in Charge of International Affairs at the Science Council of Japan, editor in chief of the journal Sustainability Science,and honorary director of the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies at the University of Nairobi.
My experience of spending the night in a charcoal-burning hut with my grandfather in Kii Mountains-Tanabe when I was an elementary student underpinned my later interest in understanding Japan’s satoyama culture, and I believe it was the source of a series of activities that culminated in the Satoyama Initiative, which is dedicated to inspiring people around the world to think about the relationship between humankind and nature. The pristine nature of Wakayama, which can be traced up to Koyasan and Kumano, extends to satoyama-style nature via rivers and from there to the natural landscape of the prefecture’s coastal areas, where it meets at last the Kuroshio Current. Koyasan and Kumano, which make up a framework of natural wilderness in this way, are also the mother of Wakayama’s distinctive culture. The Kumano Kodo, which has been recognized as part of our world cultural heritage, leads to the Minabe-Tanabe Ume System, which has been recognized as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System and to Yoshino-Kumano National Park, which has been expanded to include the coastal area. I hope to see tourism policies that seek to transform the natural connections that originate in Koyasan and Kumano and that fill Wakayama Prefecture into human connections.