He served as Senior Vice-Rector of the United Nations University (UNU) and currently holds a position as Senior Visiting Professor at UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS). He has served, inter alia, as a Vice-President of the Science Council of Japan (SCJ), and the Chair of the Central Environmental Council, Government of Japan, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Sustainability Science (Springer Nature), and Distinguished Chair, Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies, University of Nairobi.

Educated and trained as a geographer and landscape ecologist at the University of Tokyo, he engages in research and education on creating eco-friendly environments for a harmonious coexistence of people and nature, especially focusing on Asia and Africa. He leads the International Satoyama Initiative as well as climate/ecosystem change research in Asia and Africa.