“My Slavic friends helped me learn English and Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian (BCMS).”
Name: Yuki Onogi
Birth place: Tokyo, Japan
Occupation: Broker/Analyst at SG Americas Securities LLC
Languages: Native Japanese, English, former Serbo-Croatian (BCMS), Polish, Russian and bad Italian
Currently reading: “Tulipomania” by Mike Dash
Q: How did you become interested in international affairs?
I was inspired to study the world outside Japan by meeting many international students in Kingston, Pennsylvania in the United States.
When I arrived in the U.S., I couldn’t speak English. But I got great encouragement from my high school classmates from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. I can speak English and their languages thanks to them. We’re still in touch.
Since then, I’ve had good encounters with Slavs, especially from the former Yugoslavia. I chose Slavic countries as my emphasis while studying socio-linguistics, ethno-nationalism and geopolitics in the Balkans and former Soviet states.
Q: What is your most memorable international experience?
My time spent in Bologna, Italy was good because of its international environment. That experience always reminds me that this world has become like a very small village. Around 50 nationalities are at the Bologna campus of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). It was great to learn from those from European civilizations such as Italians, Slaves and Central Europeans.
My roommate at SAIS is from the former Yugoslavia. Living with him, I learned the life cycle of secular Muslims. He took me to Lucca, Munich and Sarajevo. Also, I went on an excursion to London and Istanbul with other classmates.
I met Yugoslavs not only at SAIS Bologna, but also at the University of Bologna. This experience helped me speak not only English but also Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian and some Italian.
I met a Croat working in Tokyo. He used to study at the University of Bologna. I also have Italian colleague in Chicago. He and I hang out often.
Q: What international issue is of greatest interest to you today? Why?
There are several international issues I am interested in. Regional geopolitics related to Russia in particular — continentalism, the crises in Ukraine and Syria, the refugee crisis. All of them directly impact the EU and its neighbors — especially the Syrian crisis, which involves Russia, the U.S., petro-states and former Soviet borders all together.
ISIS may change the map of the Middle East shaped by the West after World War One. The Sykes–Picot agreement created a modern political geography of the Middle East, and the disintegration of this map symbolizes the weak Western influence in the region. I can sense a change in international affairs in this regard.
Favorite quote: “Always do for other people as you want them to do for you.” I don’t know the exact quote in English, as I read the Bible in Japanese.