On the role The Genron NPO should play in resolving Japan's challenges / Kazuo Ogoura

January 01, 2014

Kazuo OgouraKazuo Ogoura
Advisor to the Japan International Exchange Foundation

Paradox of democracy and The Genron NPO

Today we see something that can be called a paradox of democracy around the world.

Our society has become more "open" today. We have more immigrants from countries far away and visitors from neighboring nations while our economy is more deregulated, resulting in increasing trade and investment. We have greater transparency in politics through information disclosure and more citizens' participation in the decision-making process. With democratic elections held for the first time in many countries, it appears that democracy - coupled with the market economy - is bringing the world together.

On the other hand, we see more visible harassment of immigrants and the rise of the "extreme right" in Japan, and in other democratic states in the West. Political confrontation of the right and the left grew so intense in the United States, it almost led to a government shutdown. Press freedom is restricted in Russia while the Ukraine's hope to join the EU has been blocked by pressure from Moscow; Egypt had a coup-like change of regime and massive anti-government protests are taking place in Thailand. All these make us wonder if democracy is facing its own contradictions, crisis and paradox.

One of the means to fix it would be with grass-roots citizens. They should not only shout their "opposition" or complaints but should empower themselves so that they can design solutions to challenges and act positively for participating in the decision-making process. The Genron NPO should function as a catalyst for raising their awareness and empower them for making solutions to challenges.