Noemi Meneses, from La Paz and a Municipality Council woman in Japan

I am delighted to present success story like this one, they serve to lift our spirits to those of us who had to leave our country in search for a better future. I welcome Noemi Meneses to The Hall of Bolivian Fame

Alejandra Pau writes for Pagina Siete:

Noemi Meneses, from La Paz and a Municipality Council woman in Japan

HISTORY the Bolivian living 17 years ago in Japan, tells her experience which led her to work in La Paz, a fleeting passage through New York where fate changed her.

“In addition to a calendar with a Japanese in kimono, Toyota jeeps, Sony computers and any other Samurai film, until a few years ago [I] didn’t have the slightest idea of what was Japan”, said Noemi Meneses, from La Paz which currently holds the Office of Councillor of the municipality of Sumida Ku, Tokyo.

Meneses and a Senator of Finnish origin are the only two foreigners who entered the Japanese political life throughout history.

Noemi attributed her arrival in Japan to “the invisible hand of fate” that made – while working at the United Nations in La Paz – during a trip to New York to pass an English course, to know a Japanese who is now her husband and father of her daughter.

The couple settled in New York and later Meneses first visited Japan. It was then that Naoto Kan, former Prime Minister and President of the Democratic Party – which is now in Government–invited her husband as candidate for Congress.

“At the beginning the idea was crazy, but we were analyzing it and we decided to take the political risk, leaving New York and our world to start one completely uncertain.” “Today [we] are already living in Japan for 17 years,” she says.

Shortly after her husband won the position of Deputy, Meneses began her footsteps in politics and was elected Councillor of Sumida Ku, one of the 23 municipalities of Tokyo.

“The Party of All, whose initials are Minano-To was established in 2009.” Within its agenda, there are three challenges that always interested me. The first, push for children to be bilingual; the second, that women have the same opportunities of work and wages than men; “and the third, support the nationalization of foreigners so that they have the same rights and obligations”, explains.

Fate and policy

Noemi and her family have two fundamental principles of life: love God and work hard to achieve their goals, values that they were acquired naturally through the parents of the woman, Constantino Meneses and Henedina Mareño, who overcame a series of obstacles after being orphaned very young.

“My dad was a central figure at home, but my mom was who gave the last word ‘ was a kind of covert Matriarchy”, said the Councillor through the internet interview granted to Pagina Siete.

From her childhood and youth, recalls that went through the classrooms of the American Institute where, remember, had the best experiences of her life and cultivated close friendships that last until today.

Fashion clothes or wrists were never a priority in her life, rather was reading, especially books of economy of his father, which gradually forged her vocation, as she ended up studying economics at the UMSA.

On her political facet, remembers that from very small suffered much to see people begging on the street. “Something in my inner self told me that, that was not natural and I should do something in this respect”, she says.

Japanese Bolivian

Sumida-Ku is a city that belongs to the traditional region of Tokyo, dates back to the Edo period, time in which flourished, among others, the samurai culture. This region is referred to as Shitamachi. In the municipality there are approximately 250 thousand inhabitants represented by 32 Councillors.

It is a traditional city where there are many ancient cultural expressions, contrasting with modernity. An example of this came last May when the Sky Tree, the tallest Tower in the world was inaugurated.

With this potential, Noemi ensures that one of the main objectives for the municipality of Sumida Ku is the municipality to become a city of international projection through an ambitious tourism plan that is in the process of implementation.

“Upon arrival, something that surprised me a lot: 60 per cent of women does not work.” So it seemed strange under every point of view, but when I was understanding Japanese society I realized that each family member plays a role. “Thus, the husband is that provides the family economic resources and women manages them (…), the divorce rate is very low”, explains.

Bolivia and Japan

The President of the municipality of Sumida asked Meneses to establish contact with the Mayor of La Paz for a bilateral relationship and the Councillor recently visited Mayor Luis Revilla.

“We talked about linking the cities on issues of education, culture, tourism and handicrafts”. “Also establish cooperation on experiences of waste incineration and use of rainwater,” recalls.

Meneses appreciates that in Sumida Ku, regardless of who wins the election campaign, when it is time to approve laws and Ordinances the difference in political-parties lost relevance, who voted against the authorities do not obstruct the execution of the plans.

“The slogan is: first the city and citizens and then the special interests, and thus should always be”, concludes.

It is great that Noemi Meneses can bring that relationship to Bolivia, there is too much to share, to learn and despite not knowing her personally, I am very proud of her!

Published by Bolivian Thoughts

Senior managerial experience on sustainable development projects.

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