Ambassador Mitsuru KITANO’s Message of Condolence at the Memorial Ceremony in honour of Director General Yukiya AMANO

Mrs. Amano,
H.E. Dr. Heinz Fischer,
H.E. Mr. Cornel Feruta, Acting Director General,
Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to address the following words to Director General Amano,

Director General Amano,

I did not expect to be here today saying these words to you. I still cannot believe that you have left us so suddenly.
As I look at your photo, I remember the past five years working together with you here in Vienna.
It also reminds me of the forty years since I first met you as a first year new diplomat joining the Japanese Foreign Ministry. Much time has passed since then.

Director General Amano,

You were truly a visionary leader.
You were able to recognize the world's trends, identify what many people around the world were looking for, and think about what you could do for that. You were a leader who, through these works, provided a vision and put that into practice.

Making nuclear science and technology accessible to many people around the world; that was your vision.

This certainly changed the lives of many people. When the outbreak of Ebola fever and Zika virus happened in African and Latin American countries, nuclear technology enabled early diagnosis. When earthquakes occurred in Nepal and Ecuador, nuclear technology helped to identify the status of the damage.

The ReNuAL project, which strengthens the functioning of the research laboratories on nuclear technology, has been supported by many countries, and 36 countries and 5 institutions provided financial assistance.

This emphasis on nuclear science and technology has changed the dynamics in the IAEA. Activities in these areas have become one of the mainstreams of the IAEA. Your vision was supported by all countries. Within the IAEA, cooperation has become more common than conflict, and practical cooperation has become more common than political debate.

The fact that your motto, “atoms for peace and development,” has been accepted by many countries clearly demonstrates that you were a visionary leader.

Director General Amano,

You were an outstanding diplomat. After you passed away, political leaders from different parts of the world sent messages to mourn your death. It is worth noting that these messages also came from countries that are at odds with each other.

"The IAEA is a technical organization"
I remember you said these words often, and I think that is true. At the same time, I also have to acknowledge the paradox by which in being professional and neutral, the Agency has played an important role in international politics. That is why it is necessary for the IAEA Director General to be a good diplomat. I think this is very much evident if we consider the standing of the IAEA regarding the Iran nuclear issue.

It is often said that the key to multilateral diplomacy is to make everybody equally unhappy. This is based on the idea that to the extent that we cannot make countries with different interests equally happy, we have to be satisfied to make everyone equally unhappy.

However, hearing the messages by political leaders from different parts of the world after you passed away, this common narrative in multilateral diplomacy sounds somewhat superficial.

It is because you were equally trusted by countries with different interests in working in this sensitive field of non-proliferation related to national security rather than making everybody equally unhappy. You earned the trust of countries with different interests by sticking to professionalism and your beliefs.

You exemplify what a good diplomat can be.

Director General Amano,

You were someone who really enjoyed life. When you entered the Japanese Foreign Ministry and went to France for language training, the place you chose was Nice, not Paris. You liked the sea. You liked watching the land from the sea, cruising on the sea and visiting the islands.
You also loved humor. There was always a lot of laughter around you. I remember you talked about your failure turning it into a funny story.
Even though you were busy or you were under pressure from work, you still had peace in mind and laughter around you. You were a fun person to be with.

Director General Amano,

When I look at you in the photo, I really wish I could spend more time with you. I am sorry that you have left us too soon.
I cannot express my feelings enough, but allow me to conclude my message with the following quote by an author who wrote about visionary leaders:

“Many things in life and work are temporary, and nothing seems to last. However, visionary leaders believe that meaning actually does last --- and forever. They believe that what they do while they are here matters. They feel that it might even matter beyond their lifetime. ”

Director General Amano,

I suppose this really was the case with your work and life. I am saddened that I will never have a chance to talk to you again. However, I am proud, as the representative of Japan, that we have had such an outstanding Director General of the IAEA from Japan.