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Ex-police chief Kunimatsu welcomes job as Swiss envoy.

TOKYO, Aug. 31 Kyodo

Former National Police Agency (NPA) chief Takaji Kunimatsu welcomes what he calls his "unexpected" appointment as ambassador to Switzerland, announced Tuesday.

"I expect my experience of 36 years in police work will be of use in administering an organization and making staff show their real abilities," he told Kyodo News in a recent interview.

Kunimatsu, 62, said leading the 30-member embassy as ambassador will be a challenge, but one he is happy to accept. "I'm a curious person," he said.

He said that when he was sounded out about the post this spring, he was hesitant at first to accept, but then decided that it is the "natural inclination" of a public servant to accept such offers and "to do one's best."

He said public servants should not refuse positions they are offered but at the same time should make their own decisions about when to resign.

Kunimatsu stood down as NPA chief two and a half years ago and currently heads a governmental center on safe driving. He will take up the post of ambassador to Switzerland this fall.

While still NPA chief, Kunimatsu was shot and seriously injured in front of his Tokyo home in March 1995 amid ongoing police raids on the AUM Shinrikyo cult.

He spent three and a half months in hospital after the shooting, which occurred 10 days after the sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.

Kunimatsu, who was supervising police investigations into the cult, lost 14 kilograms in weight at one point but is now back to full health. A holder of the third rank in kendo, he still practices the traditional Japanese martial art.

For three years from 1974, Kunimatsu served as first secretary at the Japanese Embassy in France. He said he was mostly involved in hosting Japanese visitors and visited Versailles Palace more than 60 times, making the acquaintance of a guard there.

Kunimatsu said he has visited Switzerland before but is not familiar with the country. "I want to do everything I can to widen Japan-Swiss friendship and amity by my own way," he said.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Sep 6, 1999
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