Jane Yumiko Ittogi
Jane Yumiko Ittogi is the wife of former Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. A lawyer by training, Ittogi left the legal practice to support the local arts and education scenes and engage in community work. To date, Ittogi has served on the boards of the Singapore Art Museum, the National Heritage Board, the National Gallery Singapore, and Lasalle College of the Arts.
At present, Ittogi is the Chair of Tasek Jurong Limited. A local non-governmental organisation (NGO), Tasek Jurong specialises in providing financial and social support to the socially disadvantaged. These include ex-inmates, youth-at-risk, single parents, the needy and disabled and their families.
Ittogi is one of four children born to a Japanese merchant father and a Singaporean Chinese mother. Raised in Singapore since she was three years old, Ittogi grew up in a “Teochew-speaking kampong.” In a Facebook post, Shanmugam described Ittogi as being a studious child:
“She enjoyed learning from teachers and books, quite unlike myself as I was totally consumed with my sports.”
At present, Ittogi has been married to Shanmugam for 33 years, and the couple has four children together.
Education and qualifications
Ittogi holds a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) (LLB) and a Master of Laws (LLM) from the London School of Economics & Political Science. According to Shanmugam, the London School of Economics & Political Science was where the couple first met, as they “moved in some of the same circles of friends who were deeply interested in social issues.”
Ittogi’s profile on Singapore law firm Shook Lin & Bok also highlights that she was called to the English Bar as a barrister via the prestigious Middle Temple. Middle Temple is one of four Inns of Court in the United Kingdom that has exclusive authority to call their members to the Bar of England and Wales.
Ittogi started her professional career as a lawyer in 1988, where she specialised in international arbitration, litigation & dispute resolution, and restructuring & insolvency.
Throughout her litigation career, Ittogi advised on a broad range of finance-related fields, such as documentary credit, banking issues, shares and commodities trades, and forex contracts and securities regulation.
Following her pupillage at a set of leading commercial chambers, Ittogi worked as an undergraduate and post-graduate lecturer in London, where she taught banking, shipping, and commercial law. She also served as the head of an in-house legal department during this time.
Although Ittogi no longer actively practises law, she is currently listed as a Partner with Shook Lin & Bok.
Involvement in Singapore’s art scene
Ittogi later left legal practice to contribute to Singapore’s arts scene. Notably, Ittogi has held several key leadership positions across several landmark arts institutions in Singapore.
Below is a tabulation of the positions Ittogi has held and currently holds:
|2009-2017||Board Member||National Gallery Singapore|||
|2009-Present||Board Member||LASALLE College of the Arts|||
|Unknown||Board Member||National Heritage Board3|||
|2011||Co-Chair||National Arts Council selection committee for the Singapore Pavilion in the Venice Biennale9|||
|2013-2018||Chair||Singapore Art Museum|||
Ittogi's dedication to developing Singapore’s arts scene is driven by her desire to bring it to the international stage. As she said in a statement following her departure from Singapore Art Museum,
“It’s been a wonderful journey with the team at the Singapore Art Museum,
working together to put a global focus on contemporary art practices in Singapore and
Southeast Asia, while continuously engaging with artists, audiences and underserved
communities in the region.”
Ittogi is also deeply involved in spearheading Singapore’s community outreach initiatives. While serving as Singapore Art Museum’s Chair, she was responsible for leading the museum’s community engagement programmes through partnerships. One such partnership was with the Yellow Ribbon Project, which led to an annual showcase of inmates’ artwork at the museum.
In 2013, Ittogi started Tasek Jurong Limited, an Institution of a Public Character (IPC)-accredited non-governmental organisation (NGO) that provides financial and social aid to the socially disadvantaged.
While Tasek Jurong started out providing aid to youth-at-risk, it later scaled to include ex-inmates, single parents, the needy and disabled and their families among its beneficiaries. Shanmugam describes Ittogi as “working quite single-mindedly to give confidence and help uplift disadvantaged children in Jurong, especially young teens”, and also “ex-inmates, some of whom became [the couple’s] volunteers and leaders, and [their] friends.”
Ittogi currently serves as the Chair of Tasek Jurong.
Presidential Elections 2023
Tharman Shanmugam’s Facebook update (25 July 2023)
On 25 July 2023, Shanmugam updated his Facebook profile picture with a photo of himself and Ittogi. In the picture’s caption, Shanmugam shared details of his marriage with Ittogi, dating back to when the couple first met at the London School of Economics.
Shanmugam also went on to explain his wife’s upbringing, revealing that despite her Japanese heritage, she is not fluent in the Japanese language. He attributed this to her having been brought up in “a mainly Teochew-speaking kampong.” Ittogi has, however, been taking steps to improve her fluency.
Shanmugam ended his post by stating that he has been married to Ittogi for 33 years and has been “blessed with four children, each following their own path.” His post was positively received by Singaporean netizens, gathering at least 14,000 reactions, 619 comments, and 612 shares.
Tharman Shanmugam’s TikTok update (24 July 2023)
One day before his Facebook update, Shanmugam posted a video on his TikTok account, where he and Ittogi chatted with a 97-year-old elderly woman named Mdm Wong at Teck Whye Market.
In the video, Ittogi uses the Teochew dialect to converse with Mdm Wong. In response to a playful quip about how Shanmugam “used to be handsome,” Ittogi responded with “jizun masee buay pai!”, which translates into “Now he is also not bad!”
References / Citations
- Zainalabiden, Fayyadhah. "Tharman Shares About Wife In Rare Facebook Post, She Runs NGO That Uplifts S’pore Residents”. Must Share News. July 25, 2023. Accessed 27th July 2023.
- Shook Lin & Bok. "Jane Ittogi". Shook Lin & Bok. n.d. Accessed 27th July 2023.
- Lee, Joshua. "Tharman shares 3 things about his wife, Jane Yumiko Ittogi”. Must Share News. July 26, 2023. Accessed 27th July 2023.
- Tasek Jurong. “About Us”. Tasek Jurong. n.d. Accessed 27th July 2023.
- Shanmugaratnam, Tharman. “Whenever my wife Jane was with me ....”. Facebook. July 25, 2023. Accessed 28th July 2023.
- Middle Temple. "Middle Temple: Home". Middle Temple. n.d. Accessed 28th July 2023.
- Lam, Lydia. "4 new board members join National Gallery Singapore, 3 retire". The Strait Times. August 31, 2017. Accessed 28th July 2023.
- Laselle College of the Arts. "Ms. Jane Ittogi - Singapore - LASALLE College of the Arts". Laselle College of the Arts. n.d. Accessed 28th July 2023.
- St. Margaret's School (Secondary). "Ms Jane Yumiko Ittogi". St. Margaret's School (Secondary). n.d. Accessed 28th July 2023.
- Zoom Info. "Jane Ittogi". Zoom Info. n.d. Accessed 28th July 2023.
- Singapore Art Museum. "Singapore Art Museum Welcomes New Chair to Museum’s Board of Directors". Singapore Art Museum. April 5, 2018. Accessed 28th July 2023.
- Ho, Olivia. "Edmund Cheng succeeds Jane Ittogi as Singapore Art Museum chair". The Straits Times. April 5, 2018. Accessed 28th July 2023.
- tharman.sg. "Taiji enthusiast, former samsui woman, Mdm Wong defies age at 97". TikTok. July 24, 2023. Accessed 28th July 2023.