New IMO Secretary-General begins four-year leadership role...

By BCShippingNews
January 3 2012
Mr. Koji Sekimizu of Japan is the eighth Secretary-General of the IMO...
Koji Sekimizu was born on 3 December 1952 in Yokohama, Japan.
Academic Background
Educated at the elementary and secondary school levels in Yokohama, one of the biggest trade centres in Japan, hosting the Port of Yokohama, and the shipbuilding and shipping industries.
In April 1971, he entered the shipbuilding course at the Engineering Faculty of Osaka University. Studied marine engineering and naval architecture, and in particular ship structure and vibration, until March 1975 when he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in engineering.
He further studied ship vibration theories at the graduate level at Osaka University for two years and obtained a Master’s degree in engineering with a thesis on “One method for vibration analysis of a uniform beam with vibrating sub-structures” in March 1977.
Work Experience and Achievements
In April 1977, he entered the Ministry of Transport of Japan (MOT) and was immediately appointed as a Ship Inspector in the Nagasaki district branch of Kyushu District Maritime Bureau. During his two years of service for the Nagasaki branch, he inspected more than one hundred ships for their designs and construction in initial, intermediate, periodical and annual surveys covering a variety of ships from small passenger ferries, fishing vessels, dry bulk carriers to VLCCs at various shipbuilding yards in Nagasaki which was one of the busiest shipbuilding centres in the world.
In April 1979, he moved to the headquarters of MOT. During the short interval before his next transfer in July 1980, he acted as the chief officer in charge of IMO regulations in the Safety Planning Section of the Ship Bureau and drafted various proposals to IMO’s technical sub-committees, including the proposal to the DE Sub-Committee for manoeuvrability characteristics with Professor Kensaku Nomoto, who was later appointed as a Professor at the World Maritime University.
In July 1980, he was transferred, under a special arrangement, to the Shipbuilding Research Association of Japan to engage in his duties to attend committees and sub-committees of IMO. While he was with the Association, he attended more than fifteen meetings representing Japan covering Assembly, the Maritime Safety Committee, the Marine Environment Protection Committee and various sub-committees.
In April 1982, after gaining the experience of participation in various IMO meetings, he was promoted to Deputy Director of the Environment Division, MOT. One of the most notable achievements during his service in this Division was to introduce the bill for modifying relevant Japanese national laws in order to comply with the provisions of MARPOL 73/78 and to help it toward passage. In this task, he was responsible for the preparation of the bill to the National Diet. He made every effort to explain the bill to the Diet members. After the promulgation of the above law, he was also involved in the taskforce for preparation of the Governmental Orders, and the Ministerial rules and regulations for the implementation of MARPOL 73/78.
In April 1984, he temporarily moved to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was appointed as Deputy Director, Second International Organizations Division, Economic Affairs Bureau, in charge of OECD related issues. During his service, he acted as the focal point formulating the positions of the Japanese Government to Council Working Party No.6 on Shipbuilding, the Maritime Transport Committee and the Environment Committee of OECD. During his service in this Division, one of his major achievements was the review of the Sector Understandings on Export Credits for ships.
On his return to MOT in September1986, he was appointed Deputy Director, Safety Standards Division, Maritime Technology and Safety Bureau. In this position, he initiated and organized the establishment of an Inter-Agency Task Force Group for the introduction of GMDSS and conducted:
  • Demonstration of the satellite EPIRB in Japan; and
  • 1987 GMDSS Tokyo Seminar.
After this, he participated in the 1988 Conferences on GMDSS and the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification, representing Japan.

On 2 July 1989, he joined IMO and was appointed as Technical Officer in the Sub-Division for Technology, Maritime Safety Division of IMO, with an assignment as the Secretary for the Sub-Committee on Fire Protection. In 1992, when the Technology Section was established, he was promoted to and appointed as Head of the Technology Section. After this, he worked for the Maritime Safety Division until October 1997 when he moved to the Marine Environment Division.

During the above-mentioned period, he performed the secretariat functions to the MSC Working Group on SOLAS amendments dealing with new fire protection measures for passenger ships proposed in the wake of the Scandinavian Star incident and the MEPC/BCH Working Group on Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships, which developed the framework of MARPOL Annex VI adopted at the Marine Pollution Conference in 1997. In his capacity as Head of the Technology Section, he arranged the:
  • 1993 Torremolinos Conference, which adopted the 1993 Protocol to the 1977 Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels;
  • 1994 SOLAS Conference, which adopted new SOLAS Chapters IX (management for the safe operation of ships), X (safety measures for high-speed craft) and XI (special measures to enhance maritime safety); and
  • 1995 SOLAS Conference, which adopted amendments to the SOLAS Convention to enhance the safety of ro-ro passenger ships.
In October 1997, he was promoted to Senior Deputy Director of the Marine Environment Division. He was then promoted further to and appointed as Director of the Marine Environment Division in August 2000 and served as the Secretary of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) and the Administrative Secretary of IMO/FAO/UNESCO-IOC/WMO/WHO/IAEA/UN/UNEP Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP).

In his capacity as Director of the Marine Environment Division (MED), he led the Marine Environment Division in discharging its responsibilities to support the work of:
  • Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in dealing with the phase-out schedule of the single-hull tankers and the Condition Assessment Scheme proposed in the aftermath of the Erika (1999) and Prestige (2002) incidents and handling a number of emerging new environmental issues including harmful anti-fouling paints, ballast water management, ship recycling, particularly sensitive sea areas (PSSAs) and greenhouse gas emissions from ships;
  • Consultative Meeting of the London Convention;
  • GESAMP in dealing with the re-evaluation of hazards of chemicals, review and creation of the Strategic Plan for GESAMP; and
  • Group of Experts on Impact Study for the proposals submitted in the aftermath of the Erika and Prestige incidents.
In October 2001, he served as Executive Secretary of the Diplomatic Conference on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems for Ships. His outstanding leadership led the Conference to a successful conclusion and led the Convention to adoption.

In August 2002, he attended the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, representing IMO.

During his tenure at MED, he conducted large scale environmental projects including:
  • GEF/UNDP/IMO Global Ballast Water Management Programme;
  • GEF/UNDP/IMO Regional Programme on Partnership in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA); and
  • GEF/WB/IMO Marine Electronic Highway (MEH) System in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore.
From 5 January 2004, he was appointed as Director of Maritime Safety Division, and the Secretary of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC).

In his capacity as Director of the Maritime Safety Division (MSD), he has shouldered and successfully performed the responsibilities of MSD to support the work of:
  • Maritime Safety Committee (MSC);
  • Facilitation Committee (FAL);
  • Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG);
  • Sub-Committee on Radiocommunications and Search and Rescue (COMSAR);
  • Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Equipment (DE);
  • Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC);
  • Sub-Committee on Fire Protection (FP);
  • Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation (FSI);
  • Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV);
  • Sub-Committee on Stability, Load Lines and Fishing Vessel Safety (SLF); and
  • Sub-Committee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping (STW).
As the Secretary of MSC, he has contributed to the activities of IMO in preparation, adoption and implementation of international rules and regulations including:
  • Implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code;
  • Development of the Long-Range Identification and Tracking of Ships (LRIT) system;
  • Development of the Goal Based Standards; and
  • The comprehensive review of the 1978 STCW Convention.
In the field of activities of IMO in the effort to protect vital shipping lanes, he has made major contributions to:
  • The series of meetings in Jakarta (2005), Kuala Lumpur (2006) and Singapore (2007) on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore: Enhancing Safety, Security and Environmental Protection, which created the Cooperative Mechanism established by the three littoral States; and
  • The Sub-regional meeting to conclude agreements on maritime security, piracy and armed robbery against ships for States from the Western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden areas which adopted the Djibouti Code of Conduct.
He also represented IMO at the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and the Seoul High-level Meeting on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia organized by the Republic of Korea in 2009. In June 2010, he served as Executive Secretary of the Conference of Parties to the 1978 STCW Convention which adopted the Manila Amendments.

Personal Matters, Others
Mr. Sekimizu is married and has a daughter and a son, and one grandchild.

He plays golf and his interests include playing the guitar and composing songs.

He is a Member of the Japan Society of Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers, and is a Councillor of “Kousi Zosen Kai”, the Alumni Society of Naval Architects of Osaka University.
  • The Marine Electronic Highway in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore – An Innovative Project for the Management of Highly Congested and Confined Waters (Tropical Coasts, 2001)
  • GESAMP and GMA – Constructing a New System for Evaluation of the Marine Environment (Ocean Policy Research Foundation, 2003)
  • Marine Electronic Highway Project as a New Management System for Sea Areas (Nippon Foundation Library, 2004)