Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs)

The City of Sapporo delegates seven Coordinators for International Relations (CIR's) hailing from the U.S., Germany, China, Russia, South Korea, and France to support the city's internationalization efforts. Sapporo's CIR's are mainly stationed in four offices – the Sapporo City International Relations Department (U.S., Korean and Chinese CIR's), the Sapporo International Communication Plaza (German and Russian CIR's), the Sapporo City Tourism and MICE Promotion Department (U.S.), and the Sapporo City Cultural Promotion Department (French CIR).

  • Leah Klaas[U.S.A]

  • Leonard Brinkmann[Germany]

  • Yuan Wang[China]

  • Elena Zrelova[Russia]

  • Mihyun Lee[Korea]

  • Margery Weidman[U.S.A]

  • Alice Rouaud[France]

  • 【About JET Program】
    In 1987, municipal governments nationwide started the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and CLAIR (Council of Local Authorities for International Relations).
    They serve in three capacities: as CIR's (Coordinators for International Relations) who assist in international exchange activities in local areas; as ALT's (Assistant Language Teachers), who instruct foreign languages at junior and senior high schools; and as SEA's (Sports Exchange Advisors), who promote international exchanges through sports. They play a significant role in promoting internationalization at the local level.

Leah Klaas[U.S.A]

Hello Sapporo!

My name is Leah Klaas and I'm from Beaverton Oregon, which is right next to Portland. I graduated in 2016 from Pacific University with majors in Japanese, Anthropology, and International Studies.

I first started learning Japanese when I was in high school and during my sophomore year, I had the opportunity to visit Japan with my teacher and three other students from my class. That trip really sparked my interest in Japan, and the next summer I couldn't help but come back to Japan for short-term study abroad where I met my amazing host family. Because of these experiences, Japan became really close to my heart and I've been studying Japanese ever since.

As someone who studied social sciences and has had a strong interest in other cultures since childhood, I see real value multicultural exchange and I strive always to engage in discussion to break down preconceptions and share the wonders of our world.

While I've been to over 15 cities in Japan and had many wonderfully enjoyable, eye-opening experiences, this is my first time coming to Hokkaido. I'm extremely grateful for this opportunity to work in Japan. I love nature and the outdoors, so I'm particularly excited that I get to live in beautiful Hokkaido and would love to hear any of your suggestions for places I should go see. I'm looking forward to getting to know Sapporo more and to develop a relationship with you all!

Margery Weidman[U.S.A]

Hello everyone!

My name is Margery Weidman (you can call me Margie) and I'm from Silver Spring, Maryland, which is right next to Washington D.C.! I graduated in 2016 from Indiana University Bloomington with a major in Japanese Language and Culture. I have been working as a Coordinator for International Relations for Tourism and MICE Promotion at Sapporo City Hall since July 2017!

I first became interested in Japan when I was quite young, when my grandparents would tell me stories and show me pictures of business trips over there many years ago. I studied Japanese all through high school and college, and after a life-changing college study abroad experience in Nagoya, I knew I would eventually be coming back to Japan long-term. It honestly still feels like a dream to be back in Japan as a working adult. As someone from the greater D.C. area, I am no stranger to government environments, so in that way, working at City Hall in Sapporo is almost familiar. This is my second time in Sapporo, but my first time living here, so I can't wait to see what other things this incredible city (and the rest of Hokkaido) has to offer.

Foreign language and cultural exchange have always been important to me, and I only hope I can turn that passion into something that will benefit all of you here in Sapporo. There's nothing I would like more than for all of us to become global citizens of the world by learning about each other. I promise I will do my best to show the world just how wonderful a place Sapporo is! I can't wait to get to know everyone and build a strong relationship with you all!

Leonard Brinkmann[Germany]

Guten Tag everybody!

My name is Leonard Brinkmann and starting from August 2016 I will be working at Sapporo's International Community Bureau as the German Coordinator for International Relations. My hometown is Ingolstadt, a relatively small city located in the very middle of Bavaria.

From 2012 to 2016, I majored in Japanese Studies at Leipzig University. I had the chance to focus on the Japanese language as well as study about Japan's culture, history and society. One field I hold a special interest in is the Japanese Employment System. For that reason, I wrote my bachelor thesis about the problems that arise with the progressing increase of atypical working relations. The hobbies I enjoy the most are playing the piano and travelling. Since being in a foreign country was always a special experience for me, I became ever more interested in the various implications of globalization and international relations which are important issues in these times.

Starting my work as a Coordinator for International Relations in Sapporo actually leads to my second long-term stay in Japan. When I studied at Kobe University for one year as an exchange-student, it was my first long-term stay in Japan. I was overwhelmed by the new impressions and experiences I got and it was then that I decided to definitely be back in Japan as soon as possible after completing my degree.

Though my life in Sapporo has just begun, I am looking forward to give my best as a CIR. As a representative of Germany, I want to show the appeal of my country and raise awareness for all the things our countries have in common as well as discuss differences that one might happen to perceive. Let's learn together and make internationalization happen in a positive way while deepening the understanding of our cultures and those of other countries. I want to give my utmost to strengthen these friendly relations between Japan and Germany and invite all of you to support me.

I am looking forward to meeting all of you!

Yuan Wang[China]

Ni hao! Hello!

My name is Yuan Wang. I am from the Heilongjian Province in China and arrived in Sapporo in April 2018 to work as the Chinese Coordinator for International Relations (CIR). I was enthralled with Japanese anime from a young age. In particular, I fervently read Silver Spoon, a work by Fullmetal Alchemist author and illustrator Hiromu Arakawa which features Hokkaido on the main stage. I thought that if I ever had the chance, I would love to go to Hokkaido.

In my third year of university, I participated in a Monbukagakusho scholarship program through the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) and attended Osaka University as a government-funded exchange student. At that time, I came to Sapporo and Otaru for vacation, and became even more interested in Sapporo and Hokkaido. Towards the end of my study abroad, I learned of the JET Program through a career counseling session held at Osaka University and decided I wanted to participate in it in the future. It is an honor for me to make my dream come true and work here in Sapporo as a CIR. From here-on-out, I hope to introduce China to the Japanese people and to help out Chinese-Japanese friendly exchange.

Looking forward to meeting you!

Elena Zrelova[Russia]

Здравствуйте! Hello!

It's nice to meet you, Sapporo. My name is Elena Zrelova, and I'm from Novosibirisk, Russia. My first introduction into Japan was through the anime Habashi no Gen. After graduating high school, I enterted Siberian Institute of International Relations in 2005 and studied English and French as a major in International Public Relations. However after one year, I transfered from the International Public Relations Department to the Oriental Studies Department and began learning Japanese. To me, studing Japanese language, traditional culture, literature, and history was more interesting than anything else.

When I was a senior in university, I came to Japan for the first time when I studied abroad for two months at the Japanese Language Institute of Sapporo (JLI). Once again I was able to encounter the Japan I had longed for since childhood. Studying abroad was a great experience and even more instrumental than the courses or seminars in University.

Since 2009, I had been working as a Japanese instructor and kendo coach for the youth group at the Siberia-Hokkaido Culture Center in Novosibirisk.

I arrived in Sapporo to being my new appointment as Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) at the Sapporo International Communication Plaza in August 2017. I am looking forward to continuing to work my hardest to further deepen Japanese-Russian relations.

Mihyun Lee[Korea]

Annyeonghaseyo! (Hello!)

Hello everyone.

My name is Mihyun Lee, and I come from Gumi City in the North Gyeongsang Province in South Korea. I began working in Sapporo as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) in April 2017.

I studied Japanese at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies located in South Korea's capital city, Seoul. I became fascinated by Japanese during my university years through participation in a Japan-Korea Youth Exchange Project and so, in this way, I am extremely happy to be able to share about South Korea with all of you as a CIR. I hope the international exchange I will engage in here in Sapporo will also be another opportunity for someone.

This is my first time in Sapporo, however, being born in December, I love the snowy season and am excited for Sapporo's winter. I've heard that the summers are cool, comfortable, and easy-to-live-in. I've also heard that you can enjoy the various sceneries by season, and I would love to visit many places, have many experiences, and tell everyone in Korea about it.

I'm looking forward to meeting you all!

Alice Rouaud[France]

Bonjour Sapporo !

My name is Alice Rouaud and I'm from Ormesson-sur-Marne City, which is located in the suburbs of Paris, France. In august 2016, I started working as a Coordinator for International Relations in Sapporo City. I am assigned to the Cultural Promotion Section of the Community & Cultural Promotion Bureau. The tasks I am mainly in charge are the communication with member cities of UNESCO Creative Cities Network which Sapporo is part of, as well as the related translation work and interpretation, etc.

In 4th grade of Junior High School (French Junior High School is 4 year-long), I started learning Japanese by myself as a hobby. My interest in Japan kept growing bigger, so I decided to enter the Department of East-Asian Languages and Civilizations (LCAO) of Paris Diderot University with a major in Japanese Studies. In my 3rd year of Bachelor'degree, and in my 2nd year of Master's degree, I was an exchange student in Konan Women's University, Kobe and then Kansai University, Osaka for one year each time.

This is my 5th time coming to Japan, but I had never been in Sapporo nor Hokkaido until now, which is why I am really looking forward to various new experiences and encounters. As the 1st French CIR in Sapporo City, I hope to contribute to further the relations and exchanges between Japan and France !

Looking forward to meeting you!