Koji Sekimizu was born on 3 December 1952 in Yokohama, Japan.
He was educated at the elementary and secondary school levels in Yokohama.
He graduated in March 1975 with a Bachelor’s degree in engineering at the Engineering Faculty of Osaka University, and obtained a Master’s degree in engineering with a thesis on “One method for vibration analysis of a uniform beam with vibrating sub-structures” in March 1977 at Osaka University.
Work Experience and Achievements
In April 1977, he entered the Ministry of Transport of Japan (MOT) and was appointed as a Ship Inspector in the Nagasaki district branch of Kyushu District Maritime Bureau.
In April 1979, he moved to the headquarters of MOT and acted as the chief officer in charge of IMO regulations in the Safety Planning Section of the Ship Bureau and drafted various proposals to IMO’s technical sub-committees.
In July 1980, he was transferred, under a special arrangement, to the Shipbuilding Research Association of Japan to engage in his duties to attend committees and sub-committees of IMO.
In April 1982, after gaining the experience of participation in various IMO meetings, he was promoted to Deputy Director of the Environment Division, MOT.
He temporarily moved to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in April 1984 and was appointed as Deputy Director, Second International Organizations Division, Economic Affairs Bureau, in charge of OECD related issues.
On his return to MOT in September 1986, he was appointed Deputy Director, Safety Standards Division, Maritime Technology and Safety Bureau.
On 2 July 1989, he joined IMO as Technical Officer in the Sub-Division for Technology, Maritime Safety Division of IMO.
In 1992 he was promoted to and appointed as Head of the Technology Section. After this, he worked for the Maritime Safety Division until October 1997.
During the above-mentioned period, he performed among other things secretariat functions to the MSC Working Group on SOLAS amendments dealing with new fire protection measures for passenger ships proposed in the wake of the Scandinavian Star incident and the MEPC/BCH Working Group on Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships, which developed the framework of MARPOL Annex VI adopted at the Marine Pollution Conference in 1997.
In October 1997, he was promoted to Senior Deputy Director of the Marine Environment Division, and was then appointed as Director of the Marine Environment Division in August 2000.
In his capacity as Director of the Marine Environment Division (MED), he led the Marine Environment Division in discharging its responsibilities to support the work of among other things the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in dealing with the phase-out schedule of the single-hull tankers and the Condition Assessment Scheme proposed in the aftermath of the Erika (1999) and Prestige (2002) incidents and handling a number of emerging new environmental issues including harmful anti-fouling paints, ballast water management, ship recycling, particularly sensitive sea areas (PSSAs) and greenhouse gas emissions from ships.
In January 2004, he was appointed as Director of Maritime Safety Division and has contributed to the activities of IMO in preparation, adoption and implementation of international rules and regulations including:
- Implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code;
- Development of the Long-Range Identification and Tracking of Ships (LRIT) system;
- Development of the Goal Based Standards; and
- The comprehensive review of the 1978 STCW Convention.
Among some of the activities relates to the effort to protect vital shipping lanes, he has made major contributions to the creation of the Cooperative Mechanism established by the three littoral States in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore; and the adoption of the Djibouti Code of Conduct.
On 28 June 2011, he was elected Secretary-General by the 106th session of the Council and, having been approved by the 27th session of Assembly, appointed, on 1st December 2011, the seventh Secretary-General of IMO by the 107th session of Council for the period from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2015.
Personal Matters, Others
Mr. Sekimizu is married and has a daughter and a son, and two granddaughters.
He plays golf and his interests include playing the guitar and composing songs.
He is a Member of the Japan Society of Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers, and is a Councillor of “Kousi Zosen Kai”, the Alumni Society of Naval Architects of Osaka University.
He is also a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects.
Awards and honours
Honorary Member of the International Federation of Shipmasters' Associations (4 June 2012)
Golden Anchor Award for Lifetime Achievement, Turkey (30 June 2012)
Doctor Honoris Causa of Batumi State Maritime Academy, Georgia (16 December 2012)
Halert C. Shepherd Award : Lifetime achievements for maritime safety, marine environmental protection and maritime security by American Chamber of Shipping, United States (19 March 2013)
Honorary Doctor of Science, Odessa National Maritime Academy, Ukraine (24 April 2014)
Doctor Honoris Causa of Nikola Vaptsarov Naval Academy, Varna, Bulgaria (14 September 2014)
Order of Maritime Merit, France (17 September 2014)
Honorary Member of the Master Mariners Association, Gdynia, Poland (28 September 2014)
- The Marine Electronic Highway in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore – An Innovative Project for the Management of Highly Congested and Confined Waters (Tropical Coasts, 2001)
- GESAMP and GMA – Constructing a New System for Evaluation of the Marine Environment (Ocean Policy Research Foundation, 2003)
- Marine Electronic Highway Project as a New Management System for Sea Areas (Nippon Foundation Library, 2004)