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Spotlight on public service: Alumni Q&A with Kei Sato
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Monday, July 13, 2020
Kei Sato graduated from USC Gould School of Law’s Master of Laws (LLM) program in 2011, and went on to pursue a career in public service in Japan. Today, he is a member of the House of Councillors, the upper house of Japan’s legislature, where he currently serves as vice chairman of the Committee on Rules and Administration.
What motivated you to pursue a career in public service?
I believe that government should take a main role for all of the challenges facing Japan. I started my career as a policymaker at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan in 2003, and for 12 years, I focused mainly on revitalization of local areas. After that, I ran for the House of Councillors in July 2016 with the Liberal Democratic Party.
What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the House of Councillors?
Given Japan’s aging society, I want to contribute to the creation of a society where people can stay healthy and prosper for a long time. I want to achieve social security reform. The state will help preventive medicine and spread it to the people. In addition, I would also like to work on fiscal consolidation in Japan.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Members of Parliament can contribute to all national issues … such as the severe security environment, budget deficits, declining birthrates and aging population. Solving these issues and working to leave a better Japan for the next generation is the greatest challenge.
Why did you choose to study at USC Gould for your LLM?
Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities in the world. The same is true for USC’s law school. New ideas emerge from diversity. That was attractive to me. Once again, if I could go to an American law school, I would choose USC.
How has your USC Gould education prepared you for your leadership roles in government?
When I was a government employee, I was involved in several legislative changes. Parliamentarians are tasked with drafting, deliberating and enacting laws. I studied U.S. public law at USC. Having knowledge of foreign law is very useful, combined with knowledge of Japanese law. Now I am at the forefront of negotiations with the opposition, but knowledge of the law is my greatest asset.
Was there a course you found particularly inspirational?
"Local Government Law" was inspirational. Japan and the United States have different legal systems. In a nutshell, Japanese local governments are uniform, and U.S. local governments are diverse. In the United States, residents form local governments as needed. I saw here exactly the origin of democracy.
What advice would you pass on to current Gould LLM students?
Enjoy L.A. and extracurricular activities! When I was at the law school, I was elected an international student representative in the student council. In that capacity, I focused on enhancing cultural exchanges among students and extracurricular activities. As one example, I completed the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon together with other classmates.
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