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New Directions in Twenty-First Century Governance:
Prospects for the 2000 Okinawa Summit

Professor John Kirton
Department of Political Science
Centre for International Studies
University of Toronto

Presentation presented at the 2000 G8 Pre-Summit Public Policy Conference,
The Kyushu-Okinawa Summit: A G8-Developing Country Dialogue, July 17, 2000, United Nations University, Tokyo

  1. Introduction
  2. The Foundations for Success
  3. The Summit Theme and Agenda
  4. Pillar 1: Toward a Twenty-First Century of Greater Prosperity
  5. Pillar 2: Toward a Twenty-First Century of Deeper Peace of Mind
  6. Pillar 3: Toward a 21st Century of Greater World Stability
  7. Civil Society Engagement

1. Introduction

The G7/G8 Okinawa Summit, taking place on July 21-23, faces several formidable challenges. The first is maintaining Japan's historic record, unique among G7 members, in hosting Summits that prove to be relatively successful, as the grades on each annual summit's performance, issued by the dean of Summit scholars, Sir Nicholas Bayne, suggest. The second is living up to the impressive standard set by the previous, high-performing German-hosted Summit at Cologne in June 1999. The third is addressing the large number of issues currently at the forefront of global concern.

These begin with the need to continue a successful global recovery, beginning in Japan itself, after the 1997-99 global financial crisis. They include modernizing the international financial system to cope with the rapidly spreading "new economy" of the twenty-first century, fostering a more humane, cohesive and credible form of globalization, and designing a more coherent approach to global governance for the twenty first century. They further embrace the need to broaden the process of G7/G8 deliberation and decision-making to involve the world's emerging market economies, its developing countries and its many civil society actors. And because the Year 2000 Summit will take place, as the G7/G8 Summit does only once every seven years, in the Asian region, where the Cold War has not yet ended, acute issues of arms control and regional security and the broader task of conflict prevention and human security arise.

Perhaps most importantly, the Okinawa Summit marks the start of the new millennium and twenty-first century, the second 25 years of the G7/G8 operation, the tenth anniversary of the European-centered Cold War, and the fifth anniversary of the G7's concern with globalization. The time will thus be ripe for G7/G8 leaders to reflect on how G7/G8 guided governance in the twenty-first century can avoid the manifold disasters brought by the older approaches that prevailed in the twentieth century, end the continuing Cold War in Asia, and make globalization work for the poor as well as the prosperous and the powerful everywhere in the world.

How successful will the Okinawa Summit and G7/G8 system be in meeting these many challenges? At present, nine days before the Summit opens, the prospect is for Okinawa to be a summit of solid accomplishment, with the potential to still be one that delivers some major successes.

Above all, Okinawa will be a summit that sets some genuinely new directions for global governance in the twenty first century. These new directions centre on generating innovative G8 guided processes to cope with critical issues, bringing developing countries and civil society into those processes, harnessing the information technology revolution for the task of development, and respecting cultural diversity and the contributions the aged in developed countries can make.

In setting these new directions, the Summit has resolved an earlier tension in the preparatory process. This centered on whether a celebration of globalization guided by the rich alone, with the new information technology revolution at its core, would be the main message of Okinawa, or whether a broader set of values, including a concern for those on the other side of the digital divide, knowledge divide and health divide, would prevail. Japan's Okinawa Summit now seems headed toward offering the latter, much broader and more inclusive vision.

Furthermore, these new directions are likely to be put into practice by several individually modest but cumulatively meaningful decisions. These include a charter and mechanism on information technology, funding to combat infectious disease, effective debt relief for the poorest countries, and action on conflict prevention. They also include moves to enable civil society to participate in the Summit, action against illegal logging, and programs to preserve cultural diversity. With these concrete decisions giving life to the pioneering new directions, Okinawa is certain to be, at a minimum, a summit with respectable results.

Okinawa will also feature efforts at conflict management over a wide array of critical issues. These include the positive developments underway on the Korean peninsula and potentially in the Middle East, the setbacks that have recently come in the Balkans, Africa, and South Asia, and the opportunity for action in Cyprus. Should G8 leaders, dealing with these issues at their opening Friday night dinner, be able to add real impetus to the first two, and prevent setbacks in the others, they will have again demonstrated the value of the G8 as a political an security body, and thus one able to play a comprehensive, coherent role in global governance for the future.

At the same time, Okinawa faces many major outstanding challenges, which the leaders themselves will have to confront when they meet at the Summit itself. They will be called upon to bridge protracted, deep seated disagreements over food safety, trade liberalization, the rules governing electronic commerce, relief of Russia's Soviet era debt, climate change, the looming "Rio plus ten" review, and Okinawa's military bases. Only if the leaders themselves break some of these official level deadlocks can the G8 at Okinawa prove its distinctive value at a leader's level institution and produce a summit of major rather than modest results.

Yet even if G8 leaders should succeed in doing so, there were opportunities for major breakthroughs on the road to Okinawa that have already largely been lost. One was to expand Asia's participation in G8-centered global governance, by finding a formula for China, India, and other Asian countries to become involved in the Okinawa Summit in a meaningful way. The second was to build on the new Cologne consensus, forged in the wake of the 1997-9 global financial crisis, on the need for a more socially sensitive and safeguarded approach to globalization. And the third was to bring closer the day when the G8 would realize its commitment, expressed at Munich in 1992, to resolve the issue of Russia's continuing military occupation of the northern territories of Japan.

2. The Foundations for Success

This modestly optimistic assessment of the existing prospects and remaining potential for Okinawa rest on six foundations. All are rooted in the G8's unique character, among international institutions aspiring to global governance, as a concert of equal democratic major powers.

The first foundation is the way shifting patterns of GNP growth and currency values are starting to make G8 members more equal to one another than they have been for much of the past decade. During this time the US was soaring above, and Japan and Russia consistently lagging behind, the other members. Now, for the first time in many years, there is evidence of equalizing capabilities among the G8 members. The U.S. economy showing the first signs of a soft landing. Japan is starting to grow after a long recession. Europe is moving toward vibrant (for it) growth of 3% (with even the Euro coming off its bottom). Britain and Canada are continuing to rise relative to the U.S. Even Russia, the perennial G8 cellar-dweller, is showing signs of real and sustainable measured growth, of up to 4-5% a year.

Secondly, G8 countries have a new confidence that their collective will can have a predominant impact in the world as a whole. The 1997-9 global financial crisis has destroyed earlier naive predictions about how the emerging markets, led by China, would inevitably overtake the G7 as the centre of the global economy in the twenty first century. The memory of last year's war to liberate Kosovo, which the G8 brought to a successful conclusion in the lead-up to the Cologne Summit, has provided a powerful demonstration of the weight of the G8 in the military realm. G8 members remain determined to act together again on a similar scale and in a similar fashion should a similar need arise.

Thirdly, the G7 that will meet (without Russia) on Friday afternoon in Okinawa to discuss core economic issues, and the G8 itself remain exclusive clubs with the constricted participation required to forge far-reaching agreements with dispatch. At the same time, through the recently created Financial Stability Forum (FSF), the G20, the overtures to China and other leading Asian countries to attend Okinawa, and the presence of Asian ministers at the G7 finance ministers and G8 foreign ministers meeting, the G7/G8 has moved meaningfully to broaden its dialogue and deepen its legitimacy with consequential actors in the world beyond.

A fourth promising feature is the major breakthrough in establishing new common principles that the Cologne summit produced in 1999. In the realm of overall political security, the principles Russia agreed to, and the new identity it acquired in its difficult decision to behave as a real G8 member over the war to liberate Kosovo, provided a new depth and breadth of commitment to a common core of democratic values. This came through a common recognition that incipient genocide would be prevented through the pre-emptive use of military force. In the economic realm, the new Cologne consensus on socially sensitive and safeguarded globalization began the move toward a new shared consensus as well, by frankly acknowledging that globalization has its downsides, creates losers as well as winners, and requires action to empower the losers and maintain the cohesion of the social order and its ecological foundations as a whole.

Here however, there is an outstanding question about how deep and durable this new Cologne consensus will prove to be, particularly as the memory of the 1997-9 crisis that bred it begins to erode. The leaders? conference site in Okinawa could easily prove to be just another cocooned, air-conditioned, luxury resort in the global tour of weekend think-ins, at which the jet-setting, now-electronically connected elite complacently celebrate their prowess in restoring vibrant growth to much of the post crisis world. Should the G8 leaders not pause to recognize that they are meeting in the most Asian part of Japan, and on an island offering a uniquely powerful and multifaceted set of lessons all its own, the momentum of Cologne could well be lost.

This points to a fifth powerful cause of the probable and potential success of Okinawa: the vivid, common, action-inducing memory of a crisis ? in particular, a second shock that G8 leaders know they or their predecessors failed to deal with individually and now must "hang together" to solve this second time. After the Mexican meltdown in the peso crisis of 1994-5, the global financial crisis of 1997-9 should have created a sufficiently strong second shock to give Okinawa a deep and durable legacy that the Halifax 1995 Summit lacked. In the sphere of political security, the militarized reality of Okinawa, with Taiwan visible to the south and Okinawa's troops ready for instant dispatch to Korea to the north, should remind the G8 leaders that military crisis, as on June 25, 1950, could still be just a moment away. Sabre rattling in the Taiwan straits and North Korea's firing of a missile over Japan in the past few years should do much to keep this memory alive, even as a new era of détente across the inter-Korean border dawns.

A sixth and final factor pointing to the promise of Okinawa is the political control of the G8 by democratically and popularly elected leaders. It is true that there have been a few inconvenient domestic electoral distractions. These include President Clinton's distraction from the Summit caused by the election campaign in New York state and in the United States as a whole. Yet the central salient fact is that all individuals at the table at this one institution with a claim to global governance have successfully experienced the discipline of popular national election and the unique sensitivity and self-confidence that experience brings.

Among the veterans attending the Okinawa Summit, it is U.S. President Bill Clinton, at his eighth and last Summit, and Canada's Jean Chrétien, at his seventh as Prime Minister, who have survived this harsh test of popular election twice. The host, Japanese Prime Minister Mori, has now secured a national popular mandate of his own. Most importantly, the presence of the popularly elected Russian President Vladimir Putin is a visible symbol of the reality that Russia has now passed the ultimate democratic threshold of replacing its leader through a genuinely democratic popular election.

Only Russia's Putin is a real newcomer to the G8 club at Okinawa. This makes the task of G7 leaders bonding with the new and still somewhat unknown Russian leader, after the many long years with Boris Yeltsin, an important Okinawa task. Indeed, whether Putin will continue Yeltsin's legacy of recasting Russia as a full G8 partner is a key part of the quiet drama surrounding this year's Summit. It remains all the more important with Russia's influence on the Korean peninsula, Putin's stops in China and North And South Korea on his way to Okinawa, Russia's continuing military occupation of Japan's northern territories, and a cold war that remains the dominant reality in Asia. It is within Putin's power to begin the process to end that cold war, to hasten the return of Japan's southern and northern territories fully to it and create a Japan that is "free and whole." Doing so would make Okinawa a truly historic summit indeed.

3. The Summit Theme and Agenda

For a summit of new directions, the overall theme is unusually important. Okinawa is programmed to have as its main thematic message the cumbersome phrase: "Building the foundations for the 21st century of prosperity, peace of mind and world stability in the age of intensifying globalization." While this is hardly leader-like language, and has a strong status quo orientation, it does suggest the existence of a broader and co-equal array of values ? "peace of mind" ? beyond the raw quest for material prosperity that the still prevailing neo-liberal consensus celebrates.

Yet Okinawa may take a conceptual step backward from Cologne, in its reluctance to speak frankly about the present and potential downsides of globalization. The emphasis at Okinawa will be, rather, to take practical action to remedy the problems caused by globalization, rather than discuss the dangers that have come and that may lie ahead.

There is a more powerful message that will come from Okinawa. At Okinawa, the leaders are slated to consider the fact that Okinawa is a moment of several major anniversaries, and reflect on what the cumulative lessons of those milestones are. As the first Summit of the new century, it is an opportunity to reflect on the record of the last hundred years and the wars, destruction, depression, colonialism, racism and intolerance that the twentieth century brought in such abundance. It is also start of the second twenty-five years of the G7/G8's efforts to advance core principles ? such as democracy, human rights and human security ? around the world. It is the tenth anniversary of the Cold War that ended in Europe and thus in the global international system, but that remains alive and well in Asia, always able to bring to the world of the twenty-first century some of the horrors of the century before. It is, finally, the fifth anniversary of the moment when the G7 leaders first used the world globalization ? "mondalisation" ? at the Lyon Summit of 1996. How, then, G8 leaders at Okinawa will ask, can the G8 shape a twenty-first century that avoids the tragedies of the twentieth, that ends the Cold War in Asia and other regions, and that makes globalization work for ordinary people around the world?

To give life to the new directions offered by the answers to this question, the leaders? discussions at Okinawa will proceed through an agenda built on three overall pillars: 1) prosperity; 2) peace of mind; and 3) world stability. Each contains a series of specific items, as we will now briefly review.

4. Pillar 1: Toward a Twenty-First Century of Greater Prosperity

The first pillar is "Toward a Twenty-First Century of Greater Prosperity." It includes five specific subjects.

i. World Economy

The first is the world economy, which will be dealt with in traditional G7 terms. Based heavily on the talks among the finance ministers and their reports to the leaders, there is little of great drama or major new direction here.

A. Relief of Russia's Soviet-Era Debt

The one exception is the difficult issue of relief of Russia's Soviet Era debt, where Russia's demand for action confronts the combined opposition at present of the G7. Why do so, Russia's G8 partners ask, when Russia now has a foreign exchange surplus and is registering annual growth of 4-5%. Action to relieve the debt would not be costly for Japan, which holds only 6% of the total. But it would be for Germany with 45%, and Italy and France with about 15% each. If action is to come here at Okinawa, it will be part of a much larger bargain the G8 will forge.

ii. Information Technology

The second item is the role that information technology does and can play in transforming the world of the twenty-first century. Here the emerging G8 consensus focuses on "the revolutionary role of information technology for the greater prosperity." This is seen as a multifaceted and positive, revolution that does or can help all people.

In this discussion the leaders will deal with the remnants of a earlier U.S. proposal to have Okinawa produce a liberalization package offering "four electronic freedoms." The initial U.S. proposal envisaged, first, a G8 agreement to extend the existing moratorium on the taxation of international e-commerce indefinitely and ensure that other barriers did not arise to obstruct free trade through this new medium. Secondly, it sought to give consumers and businesses abroad the freedom to enjoy this liberated e-commerce behind the border, through an agreement to deregulate telecommunications in G8 countries in ways that eliminated the monopolies and the ensuing high connection charges that impeded the use of e-commerce in countries such as Japan. Thirdly it included an agreement to liberalize air cargo services so that consumers ordering seamlessly and inexpensively via the internet from abroad could have their orders fulfilled without the delays and often large proportional expenses incurred in delivery, freight forwarding and customs clearance. And fourthly, it sought to move beyond commerce by enhancing the way IT could spread education, cultural exchange and democratic values. It would do so, in the first instance, by reaffirming and extending existing commitments entrenched in United Nations–based organizations for the free flow of ideas and information across international boundaries.

Yet Okinawa will likely deliver little of this initial proposal. Within G7 countries, state and other sub-federal authorities affirm the principle of neutrality of taxation and worry that any further moratorium on taxing electronic-commerce would leave them to shoulder the burden of spending more money on IT education, and thus generate more electronic business, while their needed tax revenues disappear. Nor is further action on ending customs clearance likely to come in the G8 (as distinct from the wider WTO and APEC) forum.

ii. Development Including Health (HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis)

Instead, the major message from the G8 will be that IT offers a chance for drastic, revolutionary change across all of society and can thus help ordinary citizens in the poorest developing countries everywhere. The vision will be that those who missed the twentieth century of development can leapfrog into the twenty-first with information technology. Within G8 countries, by connecting schools to the internet, IT can be used effectively to educate small children of Afro-American origin in inner city U.S. schools, Canadian Aboriginal peoples on distant reserves, and villagers in rural Africa. It thus offers a deepening opportunity to extend the hand of solidarity to those who may otherwise drop out, both inside G8 countries and outside. Here the centrepiece deliverable will be an Information Technology Charter, that will focus for the first time internationally on the digital divide, the knowledge divide, and the health divide.

A. The Digital Divide

Emphasis will be placed on a digital divide on a north-south basis, even while the digital divide within G8 countries will be frankly acknowledged. Here Okinawa, despite some US reluctance, will confront the fact that there are currently no international mechanisms to secure coherence in the approach to the digital divide. It will establish a new governance mechanism to bring relevant institutions such as WTO, ECOSOC, WIPO and other stakeholders together. This mechanism will operate for a few years, under the direction of the G8 chair each year. Its membership will embraces G8 countries and those from international organizations, from developing countries themselves, and, innovatively, from the NGO community. It will thus give concrete expression to Okinawa's new direction of embracing developing countries and civil society more fully in twenty-first century governance.

B. The Knowledge Divide

In the conception of the Japanese host, development is about improving the lives of ordinary citizens in each individual country. As this requires the ability to think, read, write and calculate, education is key. The G8 could play a role by giving life to the existing UN agreement that there should be universal education by 2015. Ensuring Africans can receive primary and secondary education in their native languages would also be a valuable step in overcoming the "knowledge divide".

C. The Health Divide

Development also requires workers that are healthy as well as educated. While promoting health in developing countries is a complex challenge that defies overnight solutions, important steps can be taken. Japan is proposing a concerted effort on the three diseases of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The emphasis is on saving lives now, through such simple measures as providing mosquito nets for babies and producing the vaccines that the drugs companies do not regard as profitable to make and sell on their own.

In the fight against infectious disease Japan is pressing hard to create a new multibillion dollar fund whose total amount is specified in the communiqué. Under this proposal this fund would be made available to programs delivered by NGO's in the developing countries, rather than the donor countries themselves. Japan at present is not close to securing full agreement from its G7 partners to move forward. Only the U.S. and Japan have come up with concrete dollar figures for their contribution. Japan is prepared to announce in a few days its contribution for this purpose for the next five years.

D. HIPC Debt Relief and Conditionality

One area where there will be progress is on debt relief for the poorest countries under the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) program. The prospect is for substantial progress in mobilizing the necessary monies and making it easier for worthy recipients to secure it.

But the latter task is seen to require conditions that ensure the implementation of a poverty reduction strategy, While Jubilee 2000 and others oppose such conditions, the G8 will insist upon them, as a way of ensuring that the recipients take ownership of the program themselves.

The G8 is also prepared to use HIPC debt relief as a way to prevent conflict. There are 13 HIPC countries currently engaged in military conflict. One way to act end and prevent such conflicts is to ensure that HIPC debt relief is not used to finance such conflicts, by having the G8 endorse a responsible lending policy, including in the use of the export credits its members grant. Here Japan, supported by Britain and Canada, is seeking an agreement that the G8 will "cease" to grant export credits to countries involved in such conflicts. But Russia stands opposed, and the US and France are reluctant as well.

iv. Trade

As of the outset of June, trade remained in brackets in Summit planning documents. There was still much uncertainty as to whether G7 leaders could come to an agreement among themselves that would revive the stalled Seattle process, and whether action at Okinawa along the classic lines of G7 leadership past ( including most recently Tokyo 1993) would work in the new era of the World Trade Organization and Seattle-style civil society protests. G7 members, through their trade ministers? Quadrilateral meeting (consisting of the US, Japan, Canada, and the European Union, which had competence for trade policy on behalf of the European G7 members), had been trying with difficulty to forge a framework agreement that would generate an accord on agriculture among themselves. Through this action they hoped to reduce their subsidies and other barriers on products of most interest to developing countries and restore the lost faith of the developing countries that Geneva-based broad multilateral trade liberalization could work for them. Forging such an agreement is never an easy task even within the G7, and two new difficulties arose. There were those who wondered, now that the WTO had been established, whether the Geneva process with developing countries present should be left to do its work, free from the negative counter-reactions that might arise if the G7 tried to inject its leadership, as in days of old. Moreover, those still shell-shocked by the violence of some civil society protestors on the streets in Seattle, and the signs from subsequent meetings that such threats would not go away, wondered whether any high-profile international gathering such as the G8 was the best venue to discuss, negotiate or announce any measures for liberalizing trade. Using the IT revolution for virtual conferencing seemed to some to be a much cleaner way.

Thus Okinawa remains a place where it might be possible to move the trade liberalization process forward, but only if the new players and process at the WTO in Geneva would welcome such leadership. Here the G7 could well exercise liberalizing leadership by example, and extend a hand of solidarity to those on the outside. The G8 at Okinawa could, in effect, say to the outside world "We, the leading market economies, will do this to help you."

This approach, based on WTO Director General Mike Moore's package about how to revive the stalled Seattle process, would have received a major reinforcement from a Japanese proposal that the G8 and OECD countries unilaterally offer duty free and quota free access to all products from developing countries, or at a minimum from the 41 poorest HIPC members among them. The EU accepted the Japanese proposal. But the other half of the quadrilateral meeting did not. Protecting their domestic textile industry from low cost import competition remained a real problem for a Canada always sensitive about national unity and for the United States in its presidential election year. Thus the Okinawa communique was destined to speak only of "improved access" and not "quota-free" or "duty-free." access. It seemed unlikely to affirm the latter principle even in regard to the LLDC's

Okinawa will, however, offer support for capacity building. The LDCs cannot now take advantage of the access OECD countries grant them if they cannot export because they do not have the know-how. And at Okinawa G8 leaders will also think hard about how to get more developing countries interested in restarting a new round as early as possible, and before the year 2000 ends.

v. Cultural Diversity as a Source of Dynamism

Cultural diversity was a theme that Obuchi had personally injected into the Summit agenda, in response to concerns, especially in Asia, that globalization was obliterating distinctive cultures in favour of a homogenized Americanism. It retains a precarious place on the Summit agenda, thanks in part to the sympathies of countries such as Canada and France, an over the skepticism of Prime Minister Mori, who felt as a former trade minister that it might serve merely as a refuge for trade protectionists everywhere. In the twenty-first century, as G8 education ministers recognized in their April meeting, and as leaders acknowledged in the Cologne Charter, one needs to know each other, so that the vices bred by ignorance can be avoided. Moreover, as President Clinton has highlighted, and Silicon Valley has shown, "multi-ethnicity" is the source of the U.S. economic dynamism now. Thus the G8 will emphasize the need to understand one another across different cultures, in part through the instruments of education and IT.

Here the G8 will move form offering easier access to information technology to providing ad preserving richer content. here there is a need to expand UNESCO's programs to protect the world's tangible to embrace its intangible heritage as well. Each G8 country will commit to developing a program for preserving its intangible heritage, such as minority languages and traditional songs.

5. Pillar 2: Toward a Twenty-First Century of Deeper Peace of Mind

The second pillar of the Summit agenda is a twenty-first century of deeper peace of mind, with an emphasis on the serenity, happiness and quiet at the core of Buddhist culture. This is a theme of aspiration, rather than of generating concrete achievements. Yet its presence, however fragile, does signal the lingering legitimacy for this G8 Summit of a range of values beyond the economic, and a desire to have the global governance guided by the G8 connect with the ordinary citizens in their daily lives.

A. Crime

The first item under this heading is the by now familiar one of crime, including the internationalization of the mafia. With the new technologies there can be "one click" crime that can be committed with one click of a computer key, the proof of which can be wiped away with a second click. However, law enforcement is still largely mired in the world of national sovereignty and governed by obsolete policies. The Lyon group's work offers hope of improvement, and Okinawa may be able to advance the group's activities.

B. Aging

Aging will be dealt with by the G8 in a positive tone, with the goal of affirming the right of the aged to choose how to live. These choices embrace participating in the voluntary sector, working in paid employment or retiring in leisure on pensions. Freedom of choice is the critical principle. This emphasis on choice is equally important for the young, as they look ahead to see the options and the potential pension-funding burdens they will face. The G8 will again stress the importance of lifelong education.

The communiqué will thus send out the message that the three-stage concept of work/study/retire is outdated. It will declare that people should have a choice as to when they study, work or retire, instead of being confined by preconceived notions of the proper stages of life. The communiqué will suggest eliminating obstacles that create age prejudice.

The internet can help do much to help the aged, especially at a time when the mobile nuclear family is increasingly separated from traditional local kinship ties. An example is a family in a remote village in the mountains; the father dies at a young age and the mother lives all alone, the children having moved to the city. Pictures of her child's baby can be taken each morning using a digital camera, and sent to her via the internet. She can respond with voice messages, in real time.

More broadly, with IT people can help the aged and the physically challenged work without having to rely on their diminishing physical force, as was required in the workforce of the past. In addition, as some European countries must deal with youth unemployment as well as aging populations, the G8 will need to strike a balance here.

C. Food Safety

A further and very important issue is food safety, focused on developing a regime for the use of and trade in genetically modified organisms; more broadly, the focus expands to the products of the biotechnology revolution that may offer humankind benefits as large and revolutionary as information technology itself. After the Montreal conference generated the Biosafety Protocol, following the failed effort earlier in Cartagena, it became easier for the G8 to find a common direction that would merge the conflicting approaches of North America and Europe. Although poll results suggest that Japanese citizens lead those in the G7 in their suspicion of GMOs, the Japanese government sees this issue as an old world/new world quarrel in which Japan can play a mediatory role. The Japanese do not react emotionally to the issue of GMOs; they simply do not buy them. There are no demonstrations or protests against the use of GMOs. Thus the Japanese government has the domestic freedom to play a mediatory role.

This mediatory thrust will be aimed at setting common principles and establishing new directions in Okinawa, rather than providing a detailed solution. A solution will require more detailed preparatory work. The minimum challenge for Japan at Okinawa is to prevent this issue from causing a divisive dramatic trans-Atlantic quarrel that would imperil the atmosphere of unity that the Summit is programmed to convey. Memories of how the food safety issue almost caused a major disruption at Cologne last year remain fresh in the Japanese host's mind.

There is a growing awareness of the need to create a forum for various stakeholders to express their views on food safety and guide the detailed work that needs to be done.. The U.S. and Canada, which are taking a fundamentalist view that GMO's present no hazards whatever, have proposed the UN as an appropriate forum. But the Europeans are suspicious of taking the issue to the UN, calculating that it will be difficult for 160 countries to find a solution they all agree on.

In making their proposal, some in the United States and Canada calculate that there are a large number of developing countries for which food security is a major concern, a concern that can be met through the adoption in those countries of GMOs. Others in the G8 argues that while a large number do have a food security problem, those countries also have a profound dislike of dependence n the rich north and their multinational companies, including the technological and commercial dependence the use of GMO's would create. In fact, some of the most radical views on the issue come from developing countries, some of which see GMOs as a way for grain-producing countries such as Argentina or New Zealand to stand behind Canada and the United States in an attempt to dominate the world grain market. Meanwhile other grain producers, such as Brazil and Australia, refuse to sue GMO's.

D. Environment

i. Climate Change

The broader set of more traditional environmental issues also poses a difficult challenge for the leaders themselves to meet. As at Denver in 1997, the basic divide centres on a European versus North American disagreement on climate change ? at present, the need to keep the Kyoto Protocol target commitments for greenhouse gas emission reductions by the year 2002. Canada and the U.S., as large, dark, widely dispersed, hydrocarbon-rich countries, prefer to relax the pace of implementation for or opt out of their obligations for 2002. This is especially true as they know their efforts can be overwhelmed by the unlimited emissions increases of unbound countries in the developing world. In contrast, the Europeans, benefiting from their compact geography, the closure of dirty East German industry and Britain's move to replace coal with natural gas, find it easy to meet their targets, especially as they have an all-E.U. bubble that the NAFTA G7 members lack.

In order for some of the changes required by the Kyoto Protocol to be implemented, G8 governments must ratify legislation. But some countries that have signed the Kyoto protocol claim they are having trouble persuading their legislatures to pass the required laws. Those tat have secured such ratification from their legislatures regard this as a routine challenge for all members of a club of major industrial democracies. They remain unimpressed with the will, skill and leadership of their colleagues in countries that have not. They further note that similar challenges of overcoming legislative resistance arise in other G8 issues areas, such as securing funds to support reform in Russia.

As a result, the outcome of the Okinawa language on climate change remains very much in doubt. There may, in fact, be nothing of consequence said in the communiqué on the subject.

ii. Rio+10 Review

In 2002, ten years after the Rio UNCED meeting on climate change, there will be a meeting to review progress on the implementation of the commitments made. However, progress has been slow. Countries such as Canada and the United States still face the issue of whether to meet their climate change commitments in that same year.

iii. Forests

The Okinawa communiqué will refer specifically to forests and oceans. Some in Japan feel that a strong statement on forests is desirable, although this is not a widely shared view. Its government wants to take a direct approach in the quest to advance forest protection by focusing on concrete if limited action in regard to pressing issues. It argues that there are many treaties regarding the environment that have been signed but not ratified, suggesting that a similar push to secure the UN forest convention agreed to at the 1990 Houston summit may be the wrong approach. Japan thus wants to see more concrete action, for example in curbing illegal international logging. In this desire it is being reinforced by daily communications from the well known NGO, Greenpeace.

6. Pillar 3: Toward a 21st Century of Greater World Stability

The third major theme is peace, embracing the traditional summit subjects of arms control/proliferation and regional security and the newest one of conflict prevention. Japan and its G8 partners want the twenty-first century to be a century of peace. The Japanese recall that in Edo culture, it was the long period of peace that gave birth to capitalism and culture and infrastructure, and that, more generally, one needs long periods of peace in order to have prosperity. Conflict prevention is thus a key thrust, following on the G8 foreign ministers first stand-alone thematically focused meeting in Berlin in December 1999. Although the leaders? discussions will depend heavily on the results of the meetings of their foreign ministers in Miyazaki on July 12-13, and security crises that break on the eve of or during the Summit, the following directions should be maintained.

A. Conflict Prevention

Since the Berlin ministerial meeting, the world has taken a comprehensive approach to security and conflict prevention, with human security as a core part. The follow-up will be dealt with mainly by foreign ministers, but there will be a section on this subject in the leaders? communiqué. The leaders will receive a report from their foreign ministers that will deal with the deep-rooted causes of conflict, rather merely with the question of when to send in the "fire brigade." The need for early preventative action will be underscored. Using a building block approach, G8 leaders will endorse concrete measures in five specific areas - small arms, children in conflict, civilian police, diamonds and development. They will also announce the creation of a Conflict Prevention Officials Group, to institutionalize the work that has been proceeding over the past year.

B. Arms Control, Arms Reduction and Non-Proliferation

On arms control there will be some initiatives, such as the effort, noted above to prevent HIPC relief and export credits being used to reward countries that buy or build small arms. On more traditional issues of arms control and non-proliferation, the G8 will primarily welcome and endorse the good work being done elsewhere, but offer little value added of its own.

C. Regional Security

At their opening dinner on Friday evening, G8 leaders will discuss regional conflicts in a wide array of regions ? Korea, the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa, South Asia and Cyprus.

How the G8 handles this regional security agenda is still somewhat fluid. Japan remains wary about focusing on issues that might upset its Asian neighbours. The United States may not want to highlight a Middle East if prospects for progress are bleak. Russia is determined to avoid any negative portrayal of its actions in Chechnya. And no G8 member feels sufficiently pleased about progress in bringing peace and reconstruction to Kosovo to want to herald its triumphs there.

Yet as with Cologne last year, it is in the domain of regional security that the greatest achievements of Okinawa could come. At a minimum Japan could well want the G8 to commit themselves once again to preserve stability in the Asian region, in ways that doe not embarrass the U.S. or China. A carefully worded statement could emerge making references or allusions to the Taiwan Strait, Korean peninsula and Japan's northern islands, while affirming the US presence in the region.

More ambitiously, the historic mid-June inter-Korean Summit has started a process of détente, reminiscent of the CSCE in Europe, which the G8, could build upon, as it did in 1973-5. Like at Cologne, it is the newest G8 member, Russia, that plays a critical role, especially if President Putin pays a prospective visit to North Korea on the way to Okinawa itself. More generally, to support the incipient process of détente on the Korean peninsula and to finance the reconstruction effort that will ensure eventual reunification, it is only the G8 acting collectively, as with Germany at the outset of the 1990s, that can mobilize the economic and political rewards on a sufficient scale.

At present, the G8 sees its reach on this issue as limited. It judges it can do relatively little to hasten the process of détente between North and South Korea, as the timing of any next move forward is up to those two parties, rather than any members of the G8. Yet both the past performance of the G8 on similar issues and present conditions in the Koreas and Asia suggest that this is an unduly modest self assessment.

D. Okinawa's Bases

Okinawa is within viewing distance of Taiwan and only 800 kilometres from Shanghai (compared to 1,600 to Tokyo). The G8 leaders, considering the challenges of Asian security at their summit, will thus know that the Korean peninsula is not the only central challenge they confront in their historic task of bringing the Asian cold war to an end. But inspired by the new détente in the Koreas, they could conclude that the U.S., Japan and their G8 partners, looking forward into the next century, might need fewer U.S. troops and bases in Okinawa than they have at present.

Pointing to such a future, and taking the first few steps to bring it into being, would be the ultimate testament to the late Prime Minister Obuchi, who overrode his buraucracy and intense domestic political pressure to chose Okinawa athe Summit site. It could also be the start of a dynamic process of reassurance that could one day see China join Russia at the G8, as Obuchi had wished.

As the Okinawa summit opens, America's popularity on Okinawa is very low, as two recent incidents involving U.S. soldiers and local people have brought Okinawans? frustrations with the army bases to the fore. President Clinton attending his last G8 Summit, will thus not be eager to rush to Okinawa to hear the locals wrath while the world media core asks the question of why the US needs as many bases and troops now as it had decades ago.

At present there are few signs the US is willing to make a gesture that the time has come to start a process of phasing down, concentrating or redeploying the U.S. forces and bases on the island. he Japanese host and G8 will rather be emphasizing the message that the U.S. presence in Okinawa has brought tremendous stability to that part of the world for the past 30 years. They will note that the U.S.-Japan Treaty is one element of that stability, but U.S. foreign policy is another. In this singular cannonical repetition of an old security logic, another opportunity for making Okinawa an historic summit will be lost.

E. The Northern Territories

If the late prime minister Obuchi's legacy could have lain in the liberation of Japan's southern territories from the lingering remains of the tragedies brought by the twentieth century, current prime minister Mori's lies in Japan's island territories to the north. As Mori's father realized, Japan, now joined by its G7 partners, can play a critical role in mobilizing the funds and other forms of assistance required to make Russia's Asian regions as prosperous as the rest of neighbouring Asia, and thus prevent the potential conflicts that continuing Russian impoverishment could well create. This is a national interest of the new G8 member, Russia, that is far more central than maintaining the Stalinist inheritance of the northern territories themselves. There are some who believe that a subtle shift in Japan's Russian policy could induce President Putin to respond positively to improve relations with Japan and the rest of the G8, and that Mori has his deepest if hidden ambition here.

At present development and progress on the Northern Territories is not very satisfactory. With progress on the ground not promising, the G8 is scheduled not to discuss the issue at Okinawa as part of the formal G8 meeting. It will leave the issue to a Japan-Russia bilateral summit in the early part of September and make no mention of the Northern Territories in the Okinawa communiqué. Japan professes to want to settle this directly with the Russians, as the best way to have them deliver on their outstanding promise to produce a peace treaty formally ending the second world war by the end of the year 2000.

Yet if Mori could find a way to use the concerted power and pressure of his G8 colleagues to advance this process, he would prove to be an accomplished practitioner of the concert diplomacy of the G8 at its best. For at Munich in 1992, the first G7 Summit attended by Russia's first democratically elected president, the G7 declared: "We welcome Russia's commitment to a foreign policy based on the principle of law and justice. We believe that this represents a basis for full normalization of the Russian-Japanese relationship through resolving the territorial issue." It would be in keeping with the potential of the G7/G8 system, and an appropriate start to the twenty-first century, if Russia's second democratically elected president could join with his new G8 partners to bring this belief to life.

7. Civil Society Engagement

One achievement that is sure to flow from Okinawa lies in the realm of establishing new precedents in the processes of global governance for the twenty first century. Last year at Cologne, one of the great successes was the Cologne Debt Initiative, which was the agreement by the leaders to write off almost all of the debt of the 41 poorest countries of the world by the end of 2000. The leaders would not have made that decision unless Jubilee 2000, a civil society organization, had held its demonstrations at Cologne. Jubilee 2000 is a CSO with many thousands of members around the world, who began protesting at the Birmingham summit in 1998 and continued protesting in the lead-up to the Cologne summit.

Okinawa will set a new direction by giving civil society organizations meaningful participation in global governance in innovative ways. This emphasis is visible in several of the new mechanisms, described above, being introduced to deal with such critical issues as information technology and infectious disease. It is further seen in the responsiveness of the Japanese host to the demands of established NGO's, such as Greenpeace on the illegal logging issue.

These new directions are evident in the unprecedented moves being made to involve civil society organizations and NGo's in the G8 Summit process itself. leading by example, the Japanese government has appointed a director general for civil society participation as part of its Summit planning team. Over the past several months, the personal representative of the Japanese prime minister, Mr. Yoshiji Nogami, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, has traveled to London and sent officials to Brussels to meet with the leaders of major civil society organizations, such as Save the Children, Christian Aid, Amnesty International.

The Japanese government is hosting a large number of conferences that involve CSOs in the lead-up to Okinawa, including one held at the United Nations University on July 17 with a number of leading NGO representatives and members of the Japanese government summit team involved. This meeting is designed to provide an opportunity for dialogue between civil society organizations, developing countries and those preparing for the summit in the days before the summit takes place.

The Japanese government has also created an NGO centre at Okinawa where NGOs can accredit their own media, hold briefings and conduct their own events. This facility is provided by the government but will be run by the NGOs themselves. Japan has invited its G8 partners to have their delegations briefs NGO's representatives at the Centre, as they have long done in the media centre itself.

Finally, within a few days, the Japanese government will announce that Mr. Mori and any other G8 leader who wants to join him will meet with the leaders of NGO members during the summit. Those NGO leaders will be selected by the NGOs themselves, not by the government. This too is a first, and is a major step forward.

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