~ Country Performance Assesments ~
Explanation of Grade:
Economic issues took a back seat to Russia and global issues at Denver. Whether it's due to circumstances or a conscious effort by Japan, but Japan did manage to divert attention away from economic issues to global issues. There was no harping about Japan's economic problems, deregulation or structural reforms. There wasn't even a trade dispute to spice things up as in previous summits. And that's how Japan likes it. Japan's economy is undergoing major upheavals as it makes a low recovery from the recession of the early 1990s. The need for deregulation and financial institutional reforms are very apparent to Japan, but Japan prefers to resolve its macroeconomic problems domestically rather than in an international forum.
Only four paragraphs of the 18-page communique dealt with economic issues, but under the broad category of globalization and social issues. The extent of it - a vague statement about "sound economic policies and structural reforms" being essential "to meet domestic and international challenges."
The communique adopted all the initiatives Japan brought to the summit. As predicted, they are extensions of Prime Minister Hashimoto's "Initiative for a Caring World" from Lyon. The Denver initiatives devoted particular attention to "the opportunities and challenges of aging population." An entire section is devoted to "Africa: Partnership for Development." And under the umbrella of "global issues," seven pages are devoted to an array of subjects ranging from the environment to terrorism.
Voice of Asia
Explanation of Grade:
Prime Minister Hashimoto himself referred to Japan as the "representative of Asia" during his opening remarks at the June 22nd press conference. He then immediately proceeded to discuss Cambodia, Hong Kong and China, and the Korean Peninsula. However, Japan did not succeed as well as the voice of Asia at Denver. But Japan can't be faulted for not trying. Japan comes to the summit every year with Asian issues. But the other G7 members just don't seem to take it as seriously as Japan. This year, the gap in perception was again apparent, overshadowed by the fanfare of Russian membership and an array of global issues.
During the summit, Cambodia, Hong Kong and China, and North Korea were discussed among the leaders. But Asia received minor attention in the communique. In fact, the communique doesn't even deal with Asia until page 15. Only two paragraphs deal with North Korea and Hong Kong and China. Cambodia isn't even mentioned despite an agreement between Japan and France to send envoys to try to resolve tensions in that region. Hong Kong's reversion to Chinese rule received brief attention in para 83, with a veiled warning directed at China: "We take serious note of China's assurances in the Joint Declaration and Basic Law that the provisions of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will continue to apply in Hong Kong."
Despite the lack of G7 focus on Asia, Japan did achieve its objectives for the Korean Peninsula and the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO). Before the Denver Summit, Japan received a firm financial commitment from the European Union for KEDO. According to Japanese delegation officials, the EU contributed US$6.3 million to KEDO in 1996. At Denver, Japan was hoping to get a S8 endorsement for international support. This was achieved in the communique: "We welcome the conclusion of negotiations for the EU to participate in the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) and call for further international support for KEDO, including the provision of funds."
United Nations Reform
Explanation of Grade:
UN reforms makes a strong comeback at the Denver Summit, and Japan makes incremental progress on this issue. The quest for UN reforms has been an ongoing saga since Halifax, and some progress has been made since 1995. However, financial reforms have been slow in coming, and this is what Japan has been advocating the most - more equitable assessments and reinvesting the savings to development programs.
Fortunately, UN reforms are an important issue for the summit leaders, or the communique would not devote yet another section to this topic. Included are financial reforms. It's not a full summit endorsement if you read between the carefully phrased wording, but it's the closest to a collective concensus: "The UN system must be placed on a firm financial footing through full and timely payment of obligations, and development of a more logical and equitable scale of assessments." On reinvesting savings, it implies a polite deferral to future discussions: "We look forward to the Secretary General's specific proposals for reinvesting savings from improved cost-effectiveness in high-priority development programs." The saga of UN reforms continues onto another chapter to unfold at Birmingham 1998.
Contributor: Elizabeth Adams
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