During her eight-and-a-half years at JICA, Ogata emphasized a new approach by allocating more staff to the field and introducing an overseas, on-the-job training system for new staff. She also focused on human security, assistance for peacebuilding, and organizational reforms.
Prior to assuming the presidency of JICA, Ogata served as the United Nations high commissioner for refugees from 1991-2000; was one of the co-chairs of the Commission on Human Security starting in 2001, and was appointed as the special representative of the prime minister of Japan for Afghanistan Assistance in November 2001. Before her appointment as high commissioner, she was a United Nations Commission on Human Rights independent expert in Myanmar in 1990. From 1982-1985, she was also the representative of Japan to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. In 1978 and 1979, Ogata was envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, having served as minister there from 1976-1978.
Ogata served as dean of the Faculty of Foreign Studies at Sophia University, Tokyo in 1989. From 1987-1988, she directed the Institute of International Relations at the university, where she had also been a professor since 1980. Ogata received her B.A. from the University of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo and an M.A. in international relations from Georgetown University. She received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley.