Ichigatani, Yoko

President, Health Care International inc. and Human Rights Commissioner, Ministry of Justice, Japan

Yoko's passion for education and understanding the importance of education for women and girls explains her commitment to the development of a school in Tharu Village, a marginalized area of Nepal, where women and girls are victims of poverty and targets for human traffickers. The root cause is lack of education and income earning skills. For the last 20 years, SI of Oita-Midori, where Yoko was a charter member in 1989, has supported this project and to date 16,000 women and girls have gained literacy education and 850 women finished vocational training. In 2014 she received a Commendation of the Tharu Welfare Committee for her work.

Born in 1958 in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, Japan, Yoko graduated from Tsuda College in Tokyo and finished her education at Stirling University in the UK. She is the President of Health Care International Inc. and also serves as Director of Ichigatani Orthopedic Hospital in Oita.

She serves on the Mediation Committee of Oita Family Court, is a Human Rights Commissioner in the Ministry of Justice and is on the Board of Social Education in Oita Prefecture. She has delivered over 100 lectures on Human Rights and Women's Empowerment. In 2014 she was awarded the President's Award of Oita League of Human Rights and in 2015 the Director's Commendation from Oita Legal Affairs Bureau.

Yoko is currently serving on the Soroptimist International of the America's Board of Directors, after completing her term as Governor for Minami Region in Japan. During her term, she successfully encouraged all clubs in the region to participate in Soroptimist Live Your Dream Training and Education Awards, a first for a region in Japan. She achieved several goals during her term earning Soroptimist Leadership recognition and awards.

She is a Professor of Uransenke Tea Ceremony and a Director of Oita Haiku Poets Association. She was awarded the 2014 Judge's Award of the Haiku Association by Minoru Ozawa and again in 2015 by Etsuko Oishi.

In 2000 she published "Ichihime" A First Born Girl and in 2013 she published "100 poems of Shoh Hayashi".