The Genron NPO Announces Launch of New Civil Diplomacy Initiative at News Conference

December 11, 2013


The Genron NPO (President: Yasushi Kudo) held a news conference in Tokyo on Dec. 4 to announce the launch of a New Civil Diplomacy Initiative project aimed at resolving diplomatic challenges in the East Asian region, including the prevention of conflicts in tension-ridden relations between Japan and China, and between Japan and South Korea.

The news conference at the Nippon Press Center in Tokyo was attended by Yasushi Akashi, former U.N. undersecretary-general, who served as chairman of the Executive Committee of the New Civil Diplomacy Initiative, and five of the nine other inaugural members of the committee -- Yuji Miyamoto, former ambassador to China, Ichiro Fujisaki, former Japanese ambassador to the United States, Yoriko Kawaguchi, former foreign minister, Kazuo Ogoura, former president of the Japan International Exchange Foundation, and Yasushi Kudo, president of The Genron NPO.

Yasushi Kudo At the outset of the news conference, Kudo said that the new project is ultimately aimed at reinforcing the setup to promote civil diplomacy by leading intellectuals with awareness as stakeholders in order to help rectify the malfunctioning government-to-government diplomacy. He also expressed his firm determination to expedite the organization's civil diplomatic efforts, including the Tokyo-Beijing Forum and the Japan-Korea Future Dialogue, and thereby to defuse the crisis in the East Asian situation and tackle the work to create a new order in this part of the world.

Yasushi Akashi Kudo was followed by Akashi, who warned that public opinion in a democratic society tends to be overwhelmed by emotional nationalism, unless all citizens contemplate on diplomatic issues in earnest. In order to avoid such a development, it is necessary to create an environment in which people have access to diverse opinions and can think cool-headedly about diplomatic options, Akashi said, adding that the New Civil Diplomacy Initiative could be a significant foundation for the creation of such an environment.

Yuji Miyamoto Miyamoto told the news conference the way diplomacy is conducted today has changed and that in many countries, domestic public opinion is exerting a strong influence on the government's decision-making process. The seasoned diplomat emphasized the significance of the New Initiative as an important attempt to provide new perspectives to domestic public opinion in Japan and to broaden the scope of the country's diplomatic options.

Yoriko Kawaguchi Based on her longstanding experience of participating in diverse multilateral dialogues, former Foreign Minister Kawaguchi said that Japan needs a private-sector framework for the discussions of diplomatic challenges, like the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) of the United States and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) of Britain. She thereby voiced expectations on the launch of the New Initiative as an opportunity for many Japanese people to have dialogue with the rest of the world. She also noted that this kind of initiative would not produce tangible outcomes immediately, and stressed the importance of taking time and inching closer to the goal from a long-term perspective.

 Ichiro Fujisaki Fujisaki said that civil diplomacy does not play a leading role in diplomacy but is expected to perform a complementary role for government-to-government diplomacy. Nonetheless, governmental diplomacy begins to function well, if civil diplomacy works, the former ambassador to Washington said, adding that the New Initiative would have a large role to play.

Kazuo Ogura Meanwhile, Ogoura told the news conference that the New Initiative would give all citizens a chance to "have a dialogue with oneself" through self-reflection in that it organizes serious discussions at home as a premise for fostering dialogue with foreign countries. Citing the big difference from various other private-sector diplomatic initiatives, Ogoura also pointed to the importance of making the discussions open to the public, even if that should result in divergent opinions.

Related Stories:

Civil Diplomacy's Role in the East China Sea (Council on Foreign Relations Website )

Post a comment