On the launch of the World Agenda Council

February 20, 2016

Yasushi Kudo, president of The Genron NPO

The Genron NPO officially launched the World Agenda Council (WAC), a panel of distinguished Japanese opinion leaders, to deliberate on global issues, on Feb. 10, after a year of preparations.

Today, the international community is facing diverse issues, domestic and global. When it comes to global issues, the actuality is that Japan's opinion is not sufficiently heard abroad. Admittedly, Japan's venues for public discussions on global issues are quite small and limited, while the number of experts who can assume a vital role in such debate is insufficient.

The newly created expert panel is our attempt to set up a council of experts as a platform for debate on global issues by linking Japan's future challenges with the world's agenda. With the WAC as a pillar, we are set to conduct full-fledged discussions on Japan's domestic agenda and the global agenda, as well.

World peace in danger

We intend to start with the debate on world peace. For the past several years, my primary concern has been the increasing instability in the international order. The conventional order, embraced by the West, has been exposed to diverse pressures for its revision from China and other developing countries. In addition, the governance of some politically and economically vulnerable states has been on the verge of collapse to the extent of causing devastating effects on neighboring countries.

For instance, the five-year-old civil war is resulting in Syria's de facto breakdown as a sovereign state, triggering massive outflows of refugees and displaced people to Europe. In dealing with various conflicts in the world, major superpowers constituting the U.N. Security Council are, more often than not, unable to reach agreement. Rather, some superpowers are more intent on changing the established international order and norms. Indeed, the world is at a major turning point.

The pillar of world politics is shifting toward the Asia-Pacific region. Contrary to its great economic potential, there remains an unstable balance of power in this region. There are diverse kinds of confrontation, with key regional players being unable to share common values and interests. In such circumstances, it is time that we, Japanese, contemplate how to address the issue of peace and other pressing issues facing Asia, and the world.

G-7 and G-20 meetings due in Asia

Since the turn of the year, the world has been facing a crisis of serious proportions. The Chinese economy is faltering, which is likely to adversely impact the world in many ways. Economic uncertainty, coupled with the unpredictability inherent in international politics, is apt to exacerbate the situation further. We have entered a phase in which we must mobilize all the available frameworks to suppress the ongoing crisis.

In such circumstances, the G-7 major advanced economies will hold their summit in Japan in late May, and the much-awaited Japan, China and South Korea summit is likely to be held in Japan sometime this year. In addition, China will host the G-20 summit in Hangzhou in early September. This means that Japan and China will provide a significant venue for debate among the world's major powers on how to address pressing global issues. Japan must fully utilize this opportunity to contemplate the global issues and deliver the outcomes of our discussions to the rest of the world.

New Tokyo-based framework for multilateral debate

The Genron NPO has started preparations to establish what we tentatively call the "Tokyo Conference" in the Japanese capital in March next year, on the basis of the ongoing and upcoming debate on global issues at the WAC. The conference aims to serve as a Japan-based new venue for multilateral discussions in collaboration with the world's leading think tanks for the compilation of proposals on how to solve global issues. We welcome the participation of many Japanese citizens in our new undertaking to tackle global issues as stakeholders, not as bystanders.

Read detail: World Agenda Council "The Genron NPO's new World Agenda Council to promote debate on global issues"

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