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Our Team, Our Stories

Meet the team behind WaNavi Japan and the diverse backgrounds, knowledge, talents, and stories we bring to our work.

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Motoko Kimura

Founder and Co-Executive Director

Motoko was born in Hokkaido, Japan and spent her youth in New Zealand. Growing up as the only Japanese amongst students of multi-cultural backgrounds, her passion since then has been to pursue living in harmony while embracing diversity.

After earning her B.A. in Policy Science from Keio University, she started her professional career at Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) where she engaged in projects to support peace-building of developing countries through ODA (Official Development Assistance). After living in the Philippines with her husband, she was involved in NPO work supporting refugees in Japan. She became a professional instructor of Japanese language and culture, teaching students from many countries as well as asylum seekers in Japan. She founded WaNavi Japan after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 to support international mothers and raise funds for the mothers in Tohoku. She is a mother of two daughters. Read more...

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Mina Kanai Nishisaka

Co-Executive Director

Mina was born in Tokyo, Japan, and spent her youth growing up on the East Coast of the United States of America. She came back to Japan in Junior High School, and has since been a bilingual learner of diverse cultures.

Mina earned her MA in Communication Management from the University of Southern California, and her BA in Environmental Information from Keio University. After graduation, she worked in the field of finance and has previously worked for The Monex Group under CEO Oki Matsumoto, where she was in charge of corporate communications.

Mina has been teaching the Japanese Culture Course to international students at the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy of Hitotsubashi University (Hitotsubashi ICS) since 2012.

Mina is a Children and Youth Instructor of Connection Practice, a Certified Bosaishi (Disaster Prevention Specialist), and a fellow of the Nitobe Leadership Program at the International House of Japan (2019).

She is a mother of a son and a daughter. Read more...

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Yayoi Abe


Yayoi was born in Tokyo and spent her early days in Yokohama. Her exposure to diverse culture started when she moved to the UK at the age of 11 with her family. At 15, she came back to Japan and attended and graduated from an international school in Tokyo. 

She had earned her M.A. in Human Sciences from the University of the Sacred Heart. 

She has worked in Japan Bank for International Cooperation where she met Motoko, and also in an international law firm. After giving birth to her daughter, she joined WaNavi and since then she had been in charge of shared learning events for families, and as a coordinator for international schools. 

While working with WaNavi, she has moved to India due to her husband’s transfer, where she started teaching Japanese language at Jawaharlal Nehru University and a language school. 

She is a certified Japanese language teacher, and a certified children’s Japanese language teacher. She currently teaches Japanese at international schools in Tokyo. 

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Beth Yohokara


Beth is a British-born Australian and has lived between Japan and Australia for the last 14 years. After experiencing the Great East Japan Earthquake as a first-time mother, Beth attended WaNavi’s first Earthquake Preparedness Workshop and was inspired to join us.

Beth has a BA in Psychology and a Dip Ed in Primary Education. She has worked in Primary schools in both Australia and Japan; as a classroom teacher in Australian government schools, in the IB PYP programme, Reggio Emilia inspired classrooms and as an Early Years Literacy Specialist. She has two daughters.

She provides her expertise to develop and facilitate WaNavi’s learning experiences.

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Jyothsana Narasimhan


Jyothsana Narasimhan holds a dual Master's in European cultural literature from the University of Bologna, Italy, and the University of Strasbourg, France. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in French from the University of Mumbai, India. She was a former Assistant Professor at the University of Mumbai. She is a Sub-Editor of Synergies Inde (a bilingual academic research journal) at Gerflint publications.

She recently joined the WaNavi Japan team after attending their Earthquake Preparedness Workshops. She provides her expertise to develop and facilitate WaNavi events & workshops.

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Pia Aiko Tokiyama


Pia Aiko started her career in Investment Banking as an RM for SMEs. After moving to the south of Mexico, she co-founded a real estate portfolio promoting local tourism and fair trade businesses. Then upon graduating from Waseda Business School, Aiko worked as a specially appointed assistant professor and Marketing & Communications Director at Hitotsubashi University, ICS; she co-developed two new MBA courses for the MBA program. One focused on navigating Japanese business manners and language, and the second on leadership & sustainability, a learning journey asking: What does it mean, and what does it take to lead for sustainability?
In addition, she is an external advisor to an NGO focusing on women's empowerment through micro-finance and education, and a mother of two boys.

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