In September 2016, after a four-year stint as the Canadian Ambassador to Japan, 66-year-old Mackenzie Clugston transferred to a role in education. He assumed the post of professor at Kwansei Gakuin University (KGU) -- and will start teaching a course called "United Nations and Foreign Diplomacy," from the 2017 academic year onward.
Clugston's change in direction is an interesting one because, typically, it is very rare for ambassadors based in Japan to stay in the country once their ambassadorial term has concluded.
But that is not the only reason. Clugston's new adventure at KGU, in the city of Nishinomiya in Hyogo Prefecture, represents somewhat of a homecoming for the former diplomat. Clugston was born in Kobe, the capital city of Hyogo Prefecture, during the postwar American Occupation and he lived with his family in a house situated within the KGU campus.
Clugston's father was a Christian missionary who taught students in the Department of Theology at KGU. Clugston has fond memories of his childhood in Hyogo. He would often play baseball on the campus lawn, go fishing in nearby rivers, and climb mountains -- until moving away from Japan at the age of 16. Assuming the professorship at KGU means he has returned to the place full of his childhood memories.
In total, Clugston has spent approximately 35 years in Japan -- with a substantial proportion of those years dedicated to diplomatic roles. "Japan is the country where I have lived the longest. I am a huge fan of this nation," says Clugston.
Commenting on Japanese youngsters today, Clugston expresses his concerns over a slightly inward-looking mentality and a reluctance to experience life overseas. "I worry about the future of Japan. I want Japanese people to keep traveling overseas," mentions the former ambassador.
Clugston feels that his new role is to improve the English ability of KGU students, and to nurture them so that they can one day operate effectively in international organizations.
"Japanese people are diligent," observes Clugston. "They are also reserved and quiet, but they have a deep affection for their country -- a bit like Canadians."
Clugston has children himself. His 20-year-old eldest son -- who was born in Tokyo -- is currently studying at a university in Canada, but according to Clugston, "He is very fond of Japan, and he wants to live in Japan after graduation."