Japan, 15 October 2012
The Secretary General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, gave a lecture on 15 October 2012 to WCO scholars at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo. Participants from the Japan-WCO Scholarship Programme included nine scholars in the Master’s degree programme on Public Finance at GRIPS and eight scholars in the Master's degree programme on Strategic Management and Intellectual Property Rights at the Aoyama Gakuin University (AGU).
As an introduction, Secretary General Mikuriya recalled the days when the Programme was first established at the GRIPS in 2000 with the aim of improving the human resources of WCO Member administrations. Bearing in mind the need to provide a comprehensive understanding of the evolving role of Customs in a rapidly changing environment, he advised that at the time he started lecturing on Customs Law as a visiting professor at the GRIPS in 2000 while working in the Customs and Tariff Bureau of Japan’s Ministry of Finance. This experience prepared him for his move to the WCO Secretariat in 2002 where he has continued to pursue a similar agenda, namely understanding and managing change in Customs administrations. At a later stage the AGU joined the Programme and to date both universities have collectively awarded scholarships for Master's degree programmes to 138 Customs officers from 57 countries in all WCO regions.
The Secretary General's lecture to the scholars focused on the current challenges to Customs, namely the global financial crisis, the global trading system, risks in the trade supply chain, and good governance. During the interactive session which followed, he responded to questions raised by scholars on Customs’ contribution to solving the financial crisis, regional integration and its relationship with the global trading system and the current state of global governance. Programme Directors and Professors of both universities attended the lecture and appreciated the support provided by the WCO and Japan. In turn, Secretary General Mikuriya commended the Programme as an early example of partnership between Customs and universities that had since evolved into one of the major WCO capacity building programmes. He wished the WCO scholars all the best for their future career in Customs, as they would undoubtedly take back much-needed knowledge and professionalism to their home administrations.