For the less developed nations of East, Southeast and
South Asia, emergence of postwar Japan as the world's third most powerful industrial state
holds both a threat and a promise. They can either become merely suppliers of Japan's raw
materials and markets for her manufactures, or they can march apace in the common conquest
of material lags that hobble their cultural well-being.
More is at issue than economic equity and the expectations of Asia's one-half of humanity
who feel left behind. Should Japan's headlong progress continue to outstrip the rest of
Asia at an ever accelerating rate, the resulting tensions can only prove disastrous for
all. Neither sound economics nor lasting cooperation can be built on such disparities.
Dr. OKITA has recognized these uncomfortable realities and sought to deal with them
constructively. Born 57 years ago into the family of a newspaper executive, his career in
economics was preceded by study of electrical engineering at Tokyo University. His
lifetime interest in development was aroused while working as an engineer in China on
electric power sources during World War II. Returning home to become a staff member of the
Research Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he helped draft Japan's economic
rehabilitation program during the Allied Occupation.
Resigning in 1947 in protest against cumbersome bureaucratic methods, OKITA became
increasingly a rallying point for Japanese economists seeking to advance sound policies.
He was invited to establish and head the Research Section of the Economic Stabilization
Board. After studying economic analysis in Europe, America and India, in 1950 he
introduced new methods to his colleagues before becoming, in 1952, the first Japanese
official of the United Nations when he joined the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far
East in Bangkok.
Returning to Japan two years later to a succession of senior positions within the Economic
Planning Agency, OKITA contributed significantly to his country's strategy for balanced,
long-term growth. Aware of the problems elsewhere in Asia, he labored to initiate and
expand Japanese economic aid. In 1963 he left government to head the Japan Economic
Research Center and in 1971 he became concurrently the President of the newly created
International Development Center of Japan. Through writing, training economists, and
providing officials, company executives and journalists with economic information, he
worked to enlarge Japan's consciousness of the Asian and Pacific community of which it
must be a part.
OKITA, during his extensive travels and numerous seminars, has freely shared his knowledge
with Asian thinkers in work on the Colombo Plan and similar multinational enterprises. His
experience, grasp of regional economic needs, and character have encouraged in Japan a
more liberal, mutually beneficial attitude toward her neighbors. In the last two decades
other Asians, concerned with the future of their own economies and societies, have come to
trust OKITA as one of their best friends in Japan.
In electing SABURO OKITA to receive the 1971 Ramon Magsaysay Award for International
Understanding, the Board of Trustees recognizes his sustained and forceful advocacy of
genuine Japanese partnership in the economic progress of her Asian neighbors.