A NEW YEAR'S GREETING FOR 2016Network of like-minded individuals for problem-solving to be created

January 01, 2016

By Yasushi Kudo, president of The Genron NPO

A Happy New Year. Let me convey my deepest gratitude for your support and cooperation for the activities of The Genron NPO in 2015.

We, The Genron NPO, are marking the 15th anniversary of the organization's founding this year. In retrospect, I set up The Genron NPO in 2001 and started activities to create a new venue for open debates on key policy issues. What prompted me to act at that time was the conviction that Japan's conventional media organizations were not working to strengthen Japan's democracy and motivate individuals to take it upon themselves to address issues.

Since then, The Genron NPO has made strenuous attempts to deal with numerous and diverse subjects during the past 14-plus years. And now, we are addressing such challenging tasks as the reconstruction of Japan's democracy, peace-building undertakings in Asia and Japan's contribution to the solution of global issues.

In 2016, one of the major tasks for The Genron NPO will be the creation of a network of people who are committed, as individuals, to the resolution of global and domestic issues, and engage them in a venue for open and public debate. This was what The Genron NPO intended to realize some 15 years ago and it is time to enlarge the network of debate further. In this network, the highly motivated people will be encouraged to discuss the pressing tasks Japan and the rest of the world face today, and deliver their ideas and proposals regarding Japan's democracy, regional reinvigoration and global issues.

Specifically, what will be our priority tasks?

First, the House of Councilors' election, due for this summer, will be a big challenge on the domestic front. No doubt, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is taking on diverse issues with courage. We expect Prime Minister Abe to speak out about his thoughts on Japan's future and demonstrate his vision, together with concrete measures to attain policy goals or to solve pending issues. I think it is time for Japan's voters to say "No" to his administration's policy goals, if how they are to be achieved is not clearly shown in his administration's election pledges for the upcoming Upper House election.

Second, everything possible must be done to build peace in Asia. So far, The Genron NPO has been conducting bilateral dialogues with China and the Republic of Korea. On the basis of these, I would like to launch work to lay the foundations for the creation of order and peace in Asia. Admittedly, it is the responsibility of each government to address the issue. When it comes to relations between Japan and China, for instance, any disagreement in government-to-government diplomacy between the world's second- and third-largest economies would immediately lead to serious rivalry, involving emotional public sentiments of both countries. It is the role of non-state players, like us, to create an environment for governmental diplomacy to make progress. The Genron NPO will address in earnest the task of peace-building in Asia this year.

And finally, The Genron NPO is set to launch a new project to address global issues in pursuit of their solution. The world faces mountains of problems such as climate change and the spread of terrorism, but the vulnerability of sovereign states in solving these issues is being revealed. We cannot be indifferent to these global issues, which may affect peace and order in this part of the world. Japan's presence in the international arena and its role in international society will be much weakened unless Japanese people consider these global issues as their own and attempt to find solutions. The Genron NPO is determined to set up a venue for serious debate on global agendas this year.

Again, your continued support for our activities this year will be deeply appreciated.

Thank you.