David Iwaasa (BA '72)
2004 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year
The University of Lethbridge Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus/a of the Year Award recognizes individuals for exceptional professional achievements, academic excellence and/or contributions to society. The Association is proud to recognize David Iwaasa as the 2004 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year for his accomplished career in international trade and finance and continued efforts to represent Canada's interests abroad.
Iwaasa currently resides in Tokyo as the Canadian Wheat Board's Chief Representative in Japan, but he was raised on a farm near Raymond, AB. He is married to Jane Kadonaga of Magrath, AB, and they have four children together. Iwaasa learned to speak Japanese during a mission in Japan for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints between 1966 and 1970. He returned to Lethbridge in 1970, and completed his BA in Economics at the University of Lethbridge in 1972. He graduated with Great Distinction and received the President's Research Scholarship, which allowed him to research and publish a paper on the history of Japanese Canadians in southern Alberta.
Iwaasa returned to Japan in 1972 to complete a year and a half of graduate studies at the University of Kyoto, and he finished his MA in Economics at the University of British Columbia in 1975. He began his career as an economist in trade policy with the Government of Canada's Department of Finance that same year.
Over the next two decades, Iwaasa went on to work in international development finance, international economic relations and financial institution regulation. He represented Canada in the U.S., the Inter-American Development Bank, the OECD, the World Bank, the GATT and Japan. The federal government recognized his contributions to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations with the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation.
Iwaasa accepted his current position with the Canadian Wheat Board in Japan in 1997. He is responsible for marketing Canadian wheat and barley in Japan and South Korea. Japan is one of the most important markets for Canada, with sales of wheat and barley from Western Canada to Japan approaching $500 million US each year.
Adrian Measner is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Wheat Board. He praises Iwaasa's commitment to Canada and Western Canada's farmers. "David is well-respected by our customers in Japan and has been successful in managing our business there," says Measner. "We have expanded his responsibilities to include the Korean market, and David has been successful in expanding our sales in that market. In addition to the grain business, David is very active promoting Canada in general."
Iwaasa has also dedicated his time to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan (CCCJ), which is the second-largest Canadian chamber of commerce outside of Canada. After serving as its president (2001-2003) and a Board of Governors representative (1997- 2000), he is now back on the Board of Governors and serving on CCCJ committees. Iwaasa remains active in the church, having served in a number of leadership positions in Japan The University of Lethbridge Alumni Association is proud to recognize David Iwaasa for his many personal and professional accomplishments by presenting him with the 2004 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award.