Dr Koichiro Matsuura

Chairman, Judging Committee, Yidan Prize;

Former Director-General, UNESCO

Dr Koichiro Matsuura is a Japanese diplomatic expert. He has over 40 years of experience in international relations. He began his diplomatic career with a posting to Ghana in 1961, covering ten countries in West Africa. In the 1970s, he served as Consul at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC, the United States, and later as Consul General in Hong Kong. He was Japan’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs between 1992 and 1994, during the period he served as the country’s Sherpa for the G-7 Summit. His work concentrated on development cooperation and political affairs with a focus on North America.


Dr Matsuura served as Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for over 10 years. In 1999, while serving as Japan’s Ambassador to France and chairing UNESCO’s flagship World Heritage Committee, he was elected to his first term. His significant accomplishments in programs and institutional reforms, ranging from universal basic education and freshwater management to preservation of living arts and cultures, led him to be re-elected to a second term between 2005 and 2009. Dr Matsuura is also an author of various international relations books.