The Japanese government is hailing the election of Koji Sekimizu, a former Japanese transport ministry official, as the next chief of the International Maritime Organization.
Japan “welcomes the election of Mr. Sekimizu” as IMO Secretary-General, Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto said in a statement.
Sekimizu, currently director of the London-based U.N. agency’s Maritime Safety Division, won over other candidates from Cyprus, the Philippines, South Korea, Spain and the United States in an election.
The election was held in London on Tuesday during a council meeting of the IMO. Sekimizu will be the first Japan native to assume the top IMO post.
Sekimizu, 58, joined what was then Japan's Transport Ministry — now the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry — in 1977, was assigned to the Foreign Ministry in 1984 and then dispatched to the IMO in 1989.
Sekimizu will formally take the helm of the IMO on Jan.1, 2012, starting a four-year term.
Matsumoto, noting the IMO is important to Japan because of the critical role marine transport has in the country’s trade-focused economy, said Japan “intends to further strengthen relations with the IMO, and make further active contributions to the activities for the enhancement of measures against global maritime issues.”