Strengthening Democracy through Power of Words
2017 / 03 / 07
Representatives of the leading think tanks from the 10 countries that comprise the Group of Seven - the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom - as well as India, Brazil and Indonesia, gathered in Tokyo on March 4 to launch the Tokyo Conference.
The world's representative think tanks were prompted to meet in Tokyo out of a sense of crisis that individual freedom, democracy and the rule of law, the fundamental values that have underpinned the international order since the end of World War II, face major difficulties today and that the world is growing increasingly unstable.
In the United States, a new administration has been inaugurated, while major elections are coming in Europe. At this critical juncture, we consider it imperative for the think tanks in the 10 major states that share the common values of individual freedom and democracy to work together to preserve and protect these values.
In the last two days, we had serious discussions and shared common perceptions on many issues. One is the contemporary significance of individual freedom and democracy as universal norms. The world's economy is becoming increasingly interdependent, and we are sharing both the benefits and challenges, including the issue of resource constraints and technological development.
These universal norms are assets for humankind, and are indispensable if individual freedom is to be protected and the benefits are to reach all peoples of the world. Another is the importance of having an appropriate balance between domestic interests and international commitments.
The chair's conclusion based on our discussion is that the G-7 summit due to Italy in May should deliver a strong and effective message to the world, and serve as an engine to drive the task of solving various global agendas and of preserving our universal values, and respect of the role of law and international norms, including U.N. treaties and resolutions. It is also imperative to fight against terrorism.
Needless to say, it is difficult to rely solely on governments to sustain the universal norms. Elites and the media should work with fellow citizens to confront the challenges facing individual freedom and democracy, and should start serious discussions on how to address the crisis. All the think tanks from the 10 major democracies, which gathered in Tokyo, have agreed to engage in the discussion according to the statute of respective institution.
From such a standpoint, the following five points were highlighted.
First, the G-7 member states should reconfirm the contemporary significance of individual freedom, democracy and the rule of law as the universal values humankind has realized, and at the same time, they should work together to overcome the challenges and protect and develop these values. Also, the G-7 states should preserve the framework of international cooperation based on multilateralism, and proactively sustain the roles by the United Nations and various international organizations to maintain the long-established international order.
Second, the G-7 states should demonstrate their firm resolve to firmly maintain the free-trade system and to counter all forms of protectionism by acknowledging the fact that protectionist moves are beginning to have a negative impact on the world economy and the international order.
Third, the G-7 states should promote fiscal, monetary and structural policy measures in a comprehensive manner in order for globalization to advance steadily under the international order, and to contribute to the inclusive development and benefits of the entire world. At the same time, they should work to boost the resiliency of their respective economic systems in a manner to respond to the structural adjustments of economies and sophistication of industrial structures.
Fourth, migration should be dealt with as a high-priority issue for the restoration of a stable and sustainable international order, and the G-7 states must join hands to tackle the issue. To this end, they should strive to attain the goal set by the U.N.-promoted third-country resettlement program, extend aid to nations and communities taking in refugees, step up measures to address the root causes of the issue and support private-sector endeavors.
Fifth and finally, the G-7 states should recognize the importance of resilience of democracy, in order to maintain an open international economic system, to cope with excessive frictions to abide by the rules of the system, and to achieve an appropriate balance with national interests. The efforts of the governments to observe the norms and address the challenges in earnest should be supported and bolstered broadly by civil society.
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