Critical for Japan to take global leadership role

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - Experts from around the world are to attend the symposium, which is organised by Eurasia Group and supported by The Yomiuri Shimbun and other entities, to discuss how to deal with a chaotic world in which no nations are acting as leaders. 

The 2019 GZERO Summit will be held in Tokyo on Monday, co-chaired by U.S. political scientist Ian Bremmer and Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren). Experts from around the world are to attend the symposium, which is organized by Eurasia Group and supported by The Yomiuri Shimbun and other entities, to discuss how to deal with a chaotic world in which no nations are acting as leaders. Bremmer and Nakanishi jointly contributed an article to The Yomiuri Shimbun on the significance of holding the symposium:

Japan in 2019 is the world’s healthiest democracy and the most equitable society among advanced industrial nations. That is why as co-chairs of the GZERO summit we are in Tokyo today convening leaders from across the business, media, political, and thought leadership landscape to analyze the latest trends in geopolitics, geo-economics, and geo-technology. Japan’s opportunity to take on a central role in the increasingly leaderless “GZERO world” has never been clearer.

2019 has shown the best of Japan from its hosting of the G20 to the Rugby World Cup (where the home team surprised many with its inspirational run) to the recently completed Imperial enthronement that brings with it a new “Reiwa” era. Japan’s stable politics — where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is about to become the country’s longest-serving leader — show that Japan has singularly avoided being buffeted by the waves of populism that have rocked other countries around the world.

The world is moving in a direction today that provides Japan more opportunities for leadership going forward than at any time in its recent past. In our view there are five specific areas where Japan is uniquely equipped to lead:

Japan can guide the world toward sustainable economic growth. “Growth at all costs,” is no longer an option. As climate change intensifies and the world’s air and water become increasingly polluted, the social contract between governments and citizens is further eroded. The world today needs a model for “sustainable capitalism.” Japan’s Society 5.0 initiative, dedicated to creating a new social contract and economic model to enrich human lives through technological advancement, gives Japanese government and industry an opportunity to show the world an alternate — and transformative — path forward.

Japan can boost cooperation and limit conflict between China and the United States. Beijing and Washington will be at the forefront of our future international system, and Japan is uniquely placed to both bring out the best in this relationship — encouraging cooperation where U.S. and Chinese interests overlap — and avoid clashes where the countries find themselves at odds. Such a role would also contribute to maintaining stability in Asia, which as an engine of global economic growth has ripple effects around the world.

Japan can bolster multilateral institutions. Japan’s role as a rules-based stabilizer and champion of free trade has been remarkably consistent, giving Tokyo credibility as a fair rule-maker and coordinator for maintaining and advancing free and open global trading systems not only for goods and services, but also for data transfer and innovation policies especially through the strengthening of institutions like the World Trade Organization. The leadership that Japan has already demonstrated in making the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) a reality proves that these things are possible.

Japan can contribute to global frameworks that will set the standards for critically important digital spheres such as AI, data privacy, citizens’ rights and intellectual property. Building trust to unite governments that believe in online openness and transparency will be critical to developing a framework that others will have economic and security incentives to join. Prime Minister Abe has already shown Japan’s clear commitment to these principles in his speech at Davos earlier this year proposing a framework for world-wide data governance.

Japan can lead the way on a wide range of innovative and advanced solutions to further enhance the quality of life of people around the world. As one of the world’s wealthiest countries and one with a strong commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, Japan has the influence and credibility to coordinate efforts to help people and governments in need. Japan’s industrial sector can offer both leadership and advanced technological solutions to promote the sustainable development of global societies, particularly in the areas of healthcare provision, manufacturing process automation, construction of smart cities, and the redesign of the workplace for the 21st century. Japanese government and business are jointly focusing on these goals through the promotion of Society 5.0.

Japan’s moment is upon us and its decision to take on a more prominent global leadership role has never been more critical. While the country faces serious domestic issues including a continuing demographic decline and the struggle to manage public debt, Tokyo no longer has the luxury of letting others lead as the international system is being upended. No one has benefited more nor has as much to lose from the breakdown of this system than Japan.

Japan’s ultimate success will not just be charted by its business or government leaders but through a society-wide approach. The concept of the new Imperial “Reiwa” era of beautiful harmony is precisely what Japan will need on the frontlines of the GZERO world as it navigates the geopolitical challenges ahead.

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