Mr. Shigeharu Kato joins OIST as Secretary General and Vice CEO
The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) is delighted to welcome Mr. Shigeharu Kato as OIST’s Secretary General and Vice CEO. Mr. Kato joins OIST after a six-year term as Executive Director of RIKEN. He holds a Master of Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Tokyo.
“When I first heard about the idea of OIST in the early 2000s, I was fascinated,” said Mr. Kato. “The international and interdisciplinary environment was an entirely new concept in Japan. Now, I want to contribute my experience in management to realize the idea of this institution.”
“My goal is for administrators and researchers to be good partners at every level, with clear communication, mutual respect, and understanding.”
Over the last two years, a significant amount of Mr. Kato’s work has involved keeping COVID-19 transmissions at bay across the RIKEN campuses. He recognized that everyone had an individual situation when it came to working from home and school closures and he ensured that work regulations accounted for these differences. Information about infections on the campuses was consistently gathered and kept up to date. As a result of the measures put in place, workplace transmissions remained low throughout the pandemic. In February 2022, there was a spike in positive cases, but most were traced to transmission at home.
Mr. Kato now intends to use this experience to help protect the health of OIST members and their families, and he expressed how impressed he was with OIST’s PCR analysis and other initiatives that were put in place to help Okinawa.
“I would like to see OIST continue to help society cope with COVID-19 and other pandemics,” he said.
He stated that a highlight of his career was in 2014 when, as part of his work at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in Japan, he collaborated with UNESCO to organize a world conference for education for sustainable development. This involved working with many stakeholders in Japan and overseas. The conference attracted more than 2500 participants and was deemed a success. The result of the conference was to launch a new program to further enhance education for sustainable development.
Mr. Kato is currently spending his time meeting with people throughout OIST, including vice presidents, section managers and administration staff, to find out how they can be supported. He’s looking forward to connecting with researchers and is interested in finding out more about what they value in their lives.