✝︎ Masako Hiramatsu - BPW Japan


✞ Masako Hiramatsu

We have the sad task of informing you that the former President of BPW Japan, Masako Hiramatsu, passed away on 30 November 2021. Professor Masako was an internationally renowned personality. In her quiet manner marked by modesty and prudence, she was part of the CSW events and the Leaders' Summit in New York. She provided BPW International with many side and parallel events during the Commission on the Status of Women that we all still remember. I still remember the 2012 event on disaster relief after the nuclear accident in Fukushima, where she clearly demonstrated the importance of separate space for women in sheltering victims. Whenever President Masako organised a workshop, the hall at the UN was always packed to bursting point, which speaks for the great quality of the event. 

She always had students with her in New York, whom she very skillfully introduced to the mechanisms of the UN. I myself was one of the BPW members she looked after during my first visits to the CSW. The last time we saw each other in person was at the Young BPW Conference at a women's college on the outskirts of Tokyo. It was a wonderful event that at the same time taught us Europeans a lot about Japanese culture. As always, President Masako was efficient but very humble in the background. We are losing a wise and highly intelligent woman who has shaped BPW International in terms of content. We will miss her.

Dr Catherine Bosshart, BPW International President 2021-2024 

Dear BPW sisters all around the world

Today I have a very sad news to deliver.

On November 30th, 2021, Masako Hiramatsu who has served as the national President 3 times and has dedicated her life to the development of BPW Japan has passed away.

Masako has completed the full term of 4 years as the President in May 2021, and celebrated her 88th birthday on June 16th.

Her health condition has started to fail occasionally by then, and she was working very hard to get her health back once again.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we as the BPW members were unable to visit her in person. However we have been informed that she has spent her late months peacefully being surrounded by her family, and was even allowed to enjoy her favourite drink -beer- from time to time.

The members of BPW also tried every possible way to cheer her up, by sending letters, cards, LINE messages and also e-mails.

On December 7th, I have received the notice of her passing from Masako’s family. According to that, she has strongly asked that she be sent off very privately, by her family members only.

We are deeply shocked of this sudden passing and lost for words in this time of grieving.

We pray for her peaceful rest, and hope that all our sisters in the world to also pray the same for Masako.

May she rest in peace.

Haniwa Natori

President of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs of Japan

Masako Hiramatsu

Born in 1933 as the eldest of 4 siblings, in Kagawa. A graduate from Tokyo Woman’s Christian University and also completed a Master’s program at Tokyo Metropolitan University in 1964. After working at the radio division of the US embassy in Japan, Masako has joined Radio Kanto as a broadcast journalist. She then covered the Vietnam War as the first Japanese female reporter to be dispatched overseas.

Masako served as the President of BPW Japan 3 times since 1995. She has also served as the Chair of Environment Committee for IFBPW, leading her to join the World Environment Summit in Johannesburg in 2002.

As the iconic figure of BPW Japan, she is one of the top reasons for many members to join the sisterhood. Her attraction did not stop only within BPW, but also over all other women’s NGOs in Japan, politicians, and even the government officials such as MOFA and generations of Gender Equality Bureau in Cabinet Office. Masako introduced many of the main BPW programs in Japan including EPD, Young Speech Contest, GGGI seminars, and the CSW internship, which empowered many younger generations for decades.

In order to keep “fighting” for women, she played tennis with her personal coach weekly, always went out to meet new people, and of course to enjoy good food with beer, until just before being admitted to hospital for a thorough check on her back pain in July 2021. She actively joined the online meetings and events while being bedridden, and even managed to be allowed some beer on Nov 18th. Masako has lost her battle on Nov 30th, surrounded by her family in the hospice facility. She is survived by 2 younger sisters, a younger brother, nieces and nephews who supported throughout her 88 years’ life full of great achievements and influences.

Otoha Hayashi, Young BPW, Chair of International Committee (BPW Japan) 

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