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Analytical Studies

Prospects for the Year 2000 Okinawa G7/G8 Summit

Professor John Kirton
Department of Political Science
Centre for International Studies
University of Toronto*
June 20, 2000


  1. Introduction
  2. The Preparatory Process
  3. The Summit Theme
  4. Prosperity

1. Introduction

The annual summit of the world's major market democracies (the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Canada, Russia and the European Union) will take place in Okinawa, Japan, from the evening of Friday, July 21, to the afternoon of Sunday, July 23, 2000. It will be preceded, as in the past few years, by a meeting of the G7 leaders (without Russia) on the afternoon of July 21. The evening before, in Tokyo, the G8 leaders are scheduled to attend a banquet (initially to be given by the Emperor, prior to a death in the family, but now slated to be held under other auspices). The banquet follows a host of high-profile conferences on information technology being held over the previous few days. The Okinawa Summit of the Seven and the Eight will in part be prepared by a gathering of the G7 finance ministers in Fukuoka, Kyushu, on the afternoon of July 8, and a meeting of the G8 foreign ministers at Miyazaki, Kyushu, on July 12 and 13. Before these, in the lead-up to the leaders' Summit, has come the first ever meeting of G8 education ministers, held in Japan on April 1-2, 2000, as well as regular G8 ministerial meetings for environment and finance.

The Kyushu-Okinawa Summit, as its Japanese hosts have billed it, faces the formidable challenge of living up to the impressive standard set by the previous, high-performing German-hosted Summit at Cologne in June 1999. At stake also will be Japan's historic record, unique among G7 members, in hosting Summits that prove to be relatively successful (Bayne 2000: 195). Compounding the potential importance and drama of the Okinawa event are several factors currently at the forefront of global concern. These begin with the need to continue a successful global recovery, beginning in Japan itself, after the 1997-9 global financial crisis. They include modernizing the international financial system to cope with the rapidly spreading if still debated "new economy" of the twenty-first century (Kaiser, Kirton and Daniels 2000) and fostering a more humane, socially sensitive, societally inclusive and credible consensus on globalization and global governance. They also embrace the need to broaden the process of G7/G8 deliberation and decision-making to involve the world's emerging market economies gathered in the new G20, beginning with a reforming and rising China. 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, beginning at the G7/G8's second quarter century, the tenth anniversary of the end of the European-centred 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 global governance in the twentieth century, end the continuing Cold War in Asia and other places outside Europe, and make globalization work for the poor as well as the powerful and prosperous everywhere in the world.

How successful will the Okinawa Summit and underlying G7/G8 system be in meeting these many challenges? At present, one month before the Summit takes place, with host Japan in the midst of a general election campaign that culminates on June 25, and with the sherpa process making adjustments and forging consensus ever more rapidly as the Summit approaches, one cannot answer this question with certainty (1). Yet prospects are firmly in place for Okinawa to be a summit of new directions, backed by a series of decisions of individually modest but cumulatively substantial weight. However on this foundation there is an ongoing struggle for the soul of the Okinawa Summit. It centres on the tension in determining if information technology or development will serve as the overriding legacy of the Okinawa Summit, and thus whether an orthodox neo-liberal or more equitable socially safeguarded form of globalization will unfold as the twenty-first century begins. And, especially with the Japanese host now at the height of the usual game of pre-Summit expectations management, it remains possible for Okinawa to produce some major achievements, notably on a new generation of "four electronic freedoms," debt relief for the poorest, restarting the stillborn Seattle process of multilateral trade liberalization and building détente on the Korean peninsula. Such achievements could make Okinawa in 2000 as productive as Cologne in 1999. Indeed, it could launch a set of new directions whose cumulative long-term impact will give Okinawa a greater significance than what will be visible to much of the sweltering media passing instant judgements on the Sunday afternoon as the Summit concludes.

2. The Preparatory Process

One assist for Okinawa is the unprecedented set of ministerial meetings held in the preceding year, including new departures such as the first ever thematically focused stand-alone meeting of G8 foreign ministers (held in Berlin in December 1999) (see Kirton 2000a) and the meeting of G7 education ministers noted above. If the deepening institutionalization of the G7/G8 process is indeed an asset, then Okinawa is off to a strong start (Hodges, Kirton and Daniels 1999, Hajnal 1999).

Another promising sign, critical for those who subscribe to the "concert equality" model of summit success (Kirton and Daniels 1999, Kirton 1999c), is the pattern of growth among G7 members. Some might point to the revival of growth in the Japanese economy, much of Asia and the global economy as a whole as generating an aura of confidence that makes effective cooperation easier; historically, however, such overall growth has made little difference to G7 success (Putnam and Bayne 1987). Rather, the important factor is the start of equalizing growth (as adjusted by and reflected in currency values) among G8 members themselves. For the first time in many years, this is starting to happen, with the U.S. economy showing the first signs of a soft landing, Japan starting to grow after a long recession, Europe moving toward vibrant (for it) growth of 3% (with even the Euro coming off its bottom), Britain and Canada continuing to rise relative to the U.S., and even Russia in the cellar showing signs of real and sustainable measured growth.

A second core feature of the concert equality model is the predominance of the G8 collectively in the global community as a whole. With the 1997-9 global financial crisis having destroyed any naive projections of how the emerging markets, led by China, would soon overtake the G7 as the centre of the global economy, it is clear that G7 predominance in economic terms has been recently affirmed. The memory of last year's war to liberate Kosovo and the abundance of U.S. military bases on Okinawa will leave no doubt about G8 predominance in the military realm. At the same time, through the recently created Financial Stability Forum (FSF)and the G20, overtures to China and other leading Asian countries to attend Okinawa, and the presence of some Asian finance and economic ministers at a symposium in Fukuoka prior to the G7 finance ministers' meeting, the G7/G8 has moved meaningfully to increase its dialogue and legitimacy with consequential actors in the world beyond the G8 (Kirton 1999b). At the same time, at Okinawa itself, the G7/G8 will maintain the constricted participation required to forge far-reaching agreements with dispatch.

A third promising feature is the major breakthrough in establishing new common principles and norms that Cologne produced (Kirton, Daniels and Freytag 2000). 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. In the economic realm, the new Cologne consensus on socially sensitive and safeguarded globalization began the move toward a new shared consensus as well. Yet a major outstanding question is how deep and durable this new Cologne consensus will prove to be, as the memory of the 1997-9 crisis that bred it begins to wear off. Should the leaders' conference site in Okinawa prove to be just another cocooned, air-conditioned, luxury resort in the global tour of weekend think-ins for the jet-setting, now-electronically connected elite, rather than the most Asian part of Japan, and an island with a uniquely powerful and multifaceted set of lessons all its own, the momentum of Cologne could well be lost.

This points to a fourth powerful cause of the potential success of Okinawa: the vivid common action-inducing memory of a crisis - in particular, a second shock that G7 leaders know they or their predecessors failed to deal with individually and now must "hang together" and "hang in there" to solve this second time. After the Mexican meltdown in 1994-5, the global financial crisis of 1997-9 should have created a sufficiently strong shock to give Okinawa a deep and durable legacy that Halifax 1995 lacked, even amidst the return of growth and the complacency it breeds. Equally important, 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 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 do much to keep this memory alive.

A final factor in the concert equality model - political control by popularly elected leaders - also points to the potential that this summit has, but also to an opportunity that may not be seized. Here it is ultimately not the fresh mandate or "lame duck" status of a leader, nor the size of his or her mandate, nor even the popularity in public opinion polls that matters; what matters is the fact that all individuals 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 it brings. Among the veterans, 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 twice. But here the key factor is the presence of the popularly elected Russian President Vladimir Putin - a visible symbol of the reality that Russia has 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 in continuing military occupation of Japan's northern territories, the U.S. maintaining a heavy military presence on Okinawa itself, and a cold war that remains the dominant reality in Asia. By beginning the process to end that cold war, to return Japan's southern and northern territories fully to it, thereby creating a Japan that is "free and whole," Okinawa could become a truly historic summit.

Within Japan, the recent leadership transition and outcome of the current election matter less than many observers think. Japan has survived Summits with deeply unpopular soon-to-be-disposed-of leaders (Prime Minister Sousuke Uno in 1989) or even no leader at all (the incumbent having died on the Summit's eve). Whatever the outcome of the June 25 election (with voter turnout thought to play a large factor in determining the result), Japan is highly likely to send a leader with a democratic popular mandate to Okinawa - be it an intact or politically crippled Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori who will have by then secured a national popular mandate, or his successor from another party. Should a humiliated but still governing LDP coalition choose to make a pre-Okinawa substitution as prime minister, there is some chance that former prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto would get the nod. Should a protracted post-election leadership struggle ensue, there is always the veteran finance minister and former prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa to stand in and do the needed job for Japan. As frustrating as Japan's opaque coalition parliamentary politics may be to those comfortable with the martial clarity of the command and control U.S. presidential system, Japan's factional parliamentary system endows it with an abundance of prime ministerial bullpen strength. Only in the case of foreign minister Kono, or Koichi Kato as post election Prime Ministers would a weakness arise.

Yet there are some adjustments and ensuing challenges that Okinawa faces as a consequence of the untimely May 14 death of Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and his replacement by Prime Minister Mori. Obuchi, a former foreign minister, had a vision for the Summit (Obuchi 2000). He knew the world outside. His personal convictions showed his deep-seated desire to see a future dominated by genuine human security. This was evident when he overrode his officials and the longstanding Japanese deference to U.S. sensibilities to make the global convention on antipersonnel landmines a reality. Obuchi took initiatives to guide his officials planning the Summit, including insisting that cultural diversity be included on the G8 agenda. He had, from the start, a clear game plan of what his summit would do. It was he who had overruled his officials to choose Okinawa as a site, partly in recognition of his college-day convictions when he, Mori and the current cabinet secretary were the leaders of a student group at Waseda University that campaigned for the reversion of Okinawa from American military rule. It is said that on his visit to the island as a student activist, he reflected on the suicides of young Okinawan women, and promised his then girlfriend that if he ever went into political life, he would work to restore Okinawa to Japan.

The Okinawa site is rich in its substantive Summit symbolism. It is a place marked by centuries of peace and free trade, the poorest prefecture in highly egalitarian Japan, an ecological paradise, a leader in the longevity of its populace, the site of the only land battle on Japanese soil in World War Two, and Japan's crossroads with Asia. It is, most immediately, a place where the heavy presence of U.S. military bases, with their clear impact on the local ecology, culture and even human security, serve as a poignant reminder that the Cold War has not ended in Asia and that the key to a twenty-first century of genuine human security is to begin the process of bringing the Asian Cold War to an end.

In keeping with Okinawa's unique character, reinforced by the location of the foreign ministers and finance ministers in Kyushu, Obuchi had planned a summit that would focus on Asia. His centrepiece achievement was to be an invitation to the leaders of India, Indonesia, South Korea and, above all, China to come for a dialogue with G8 leaders at Okinawa, perhaps along the lines of the pre-Summit dinner at Paris in 1989 (Kirton 1999b). Yet when China refused his overture (with all other prospects having signalled their willingness) the plan fell apart, leaving Asian finance ministers invited to a symposium just prior to the Fukuoka finance ministers' meeting as a the only remnant of Obuchi's plan.

In some contrast, Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori is a domestically focused LDP "fixer" politician, with an image abroad as an inward-looking protectionist from his brief tenure as trade minister in previous years. While he almost certainly simply responded to the advice of his officials in the trade portfolio, he did exhibit more leadership during his ministerial tenure in the domestically oriented education portfolio. He has not placed any foreign ministry supporters in his cabinet. Yet those looking for an emergent foreign policy vision, and thus personal Mori imprint on Okinawa could find some signs. His father, a mayor of a town near Mori's constituency, was passionately interested in improving Japanese economic relations with Russia, to the point where he had some of his bones buried on Russian soil. Mori also has a keen interest in the Arctic, suggesting an ecological predisposition of sorts. Moreover, during his quick pre-Summit tour of Summit capitals, Mori performed above expectations, suggesting his skills as a quintessential domestic LDP fixer politician could be transposed to the role of an effective coordinator in the international realm. Mori, the mediator among equals, also has the classic Japanese skill of listening particularly closely to the Americans, with the result that his pre-Summit tour yielded a shift in emphasis that placed information technology, in keeping with American thinking, clearly in first place as the dominant Summit theme. Obuchi's emphasis on Asia, and confronting the anxieties about globalization so prominent in a region just coming out of the 1997-9 financial crisis, faded a little from view (Mori 2000, Obuchi 2000).

As June unfolded, Mori tested new historic lows in his domestic approval rating, in part due to ill-timed remarks that alluded to Japan's divine status. These remarks ignited fears within Japan and among its Asian neighbours that the Japan of a distant past might return. With the LDP likely to lose seats, there was speculation that Mori would be replaced as prime minister shortly after or even before the Okinawa Summit took place. Foreign minister Yohei Kono, Koichi Kato and, former prime minister Hashimoto led the list of prospective replacements. However, as discussed above, the lame duck aura around Mori has less of an impact on Okinawa than at first might appear. Most generally, Japanese prime ministers matter less than leaders in any other G8 country. And as the election campaign opened, a clear Summit agenda and plan had already been put in place.

The plan began with Obuchi's very clear instruction to his summit team in the autumn of 1999 to put information technology (IT) forward as a leading topic. Obuchi felt very strongly that this was a future oriented theme, and that IT could bring happiness to ordinary people everywhere. In Obuchi's mind IT was a natural extension of his Asian focus. Several advisors told him that IT was a driving force in the Asian recovery then underway, while several policymakers in the region hotly debated its potential contribution to future economic growth. The reports on the World Economic Forum in Singapore in late 1999 and Obuchi's meetings with leaders of the Asian nations furthered convinced Obuchi to place IT more strongly as a major agenda item for the Summit.

The IT theme thus appeared consistent with Obuchi's initial idea to focus on human security, including peace of mind and caring for the poor, in an age of globalization. He recognized that IT could be a double-edged sword, as an instrument that could both foster economic growth while generating an unacceptable "digital divide." While he accepted the American idea that deregulation would enhance the opportunities for IT development and diffusion, he also saw a strong role for governments to play. This role was a twofold one. First, government action was necessary to contain the undesirable domination by some businesspeople, through patent law, competition policy and rule making for e-commerce. Secondly, governments needed to help the poor prepare properly for the IT era, particularly in the developing countries.

Furthermore, Obuchi calculated that this thrust could ease the concerns of developing countries and thus lead them to support a fresh push, which Obuchi wished to hammer out during the summit, for a renewal of the pursuit to launch a new round of WTO-based multilateral trade negotiations. Here he was hoping to reinforce the multilateral approach to liberalization, as a substitute for the unilateral or bilateral one the U.S. was often engaged in, and as distinct from the new regional initiatives he allowed to go ahead.

Obuchi's proposal regarding the IT item for the Summit was commented upon and eventually accepted by all other G8 participants. Within Japan, Prime Minister Mori has repeatedly said that he wishes to follow Mr. Obuchi's line. In his own Pre-Summit tour, Mori thus advanced the IT theme even more strongly, and received the approval of his G8 colleagues.

3. The Summit Theme

For a summit of new directions, the overall theme is unusually important, especially in a world of diminishing hierarchical authority where intellectual leadership and moral suasion assume a larger place. At present, 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 there remains an ongoing struggle for the soul of the Okinawa summit. There is a difference between, on the one hand, beginning with human security as a goal and seeing how IT alongside other instruments can advance it, and, on the other, starting with IT as an instrument and heralding it assumed potency in easily realizing a vast array of goals that have hitherto defied easy solution. There is a difference between investing in IT infrastructure and investing directly in people. And there is a difference between assuming that the benefits of IT will trickle down to enrich everyone, and assuming that a strong set of social protections is needed as the IT revolution is launched. It is the task of democratic leadership at its finest to get the synthesis and the balance between these two epistemological starting points right.

At present, with Mori indebted to Clinton, who flew to Japan for Obuchi's funeral and who provided the election boost the U.S. presidential presence was thought to give, it is information technology that has emerged as the dominate theme. Its prominence will be bolstered by high-profile conferences help amidst the splendor of Tokyo just before the leaders fly in for a grand banquet - conferences at which Bill Gates himself is expected to attend. The clear message will be that G8-guided globalization can and does work for the Bill Gateses of the world, and that more electronic liberalization is needed in pursuit of this goal. It remains to be seen whether the G8 message and accompanying liberalization will generate a new generation of Bill Gateses in the U.S., in other G8 countries, in the real silicon valleys of India and in the potential ones in Mali and Burkina Faso. It also remains to be seen if the IT revolution will, or can be made to, improve the lives of ordinary people everywhere.

There is at present a minority message battling for greater voice and visibility in the summit system. This is that the IT revolution, along with other instruments, can be a powerful tool for giving poor people in poor communities and poor countries better lives. But with the waning of the original Obuchi emphasis on Asia, and thus on confronting the anxieties about a globalization that recently ravaged so many of its citizens, it is a message that could well be drowned out by the techno-euphoria of downtown Tokyo. In this case the emerging new Cologne consensus - of a globalization that works equally well for the poor as for the powerful - could suffer an abrupt death. In a Japan that has thus far remained largely secure from the income inequalities that the IT revolution had created or is producing in many other G8 countries, such an outcome would be ironic indeed.

There is a larger, and much more powerful, message that could emerge from Okinawa. At this summit, the leaders are slated to consider the fact that Okinawa is a moment of several major anniversaries, and to reflect on the lessons of those. As the first Summit of the new century, Okinawa 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. Okinawa also allows a look back at the first twenty five G7/G8 Summits and how they have succeeded in their founding purpose of instituting a new centre of global governance 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 remains alive and well in Asia, and in ways that could return 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, 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?

4. Prosperity

Based on the proposals prepared by the Japanese sherpa team and accepted by Prime Minister Mori, the leaders' discussions at Okinawa will proceed through an agenda built on three overall pillars: 1) prosperity; 2) peace of mind; and 3) peace. Each contains a series of specific items, as noted below. As of June 5, following Prime Minister Mori's world tour to visit Summit leaders and solicit their expressions of interest, Japan moved to highlight the three particular issues of information technology, infectious disease and food safety (Mori 2000). Yet it must be remembered that this emphasis and underlying script for the Summit will by no means be definitive. Adjustments may arise in the final weeks of preparation. A crisis on the eve of the Summit may capture the leaders' attention and time, particularly at the opening dinner. And spontaneous combustion may occur among the leaders themselves, in this unique forum designed to allow democratically elected leaders to escape the bureaucratic confines that arise in virtually all other international institutions where they meet.

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

The first pillar, "Toward a Twenty-First Century of Greater Prosperity," includes five specific subjects, as follows.

1. World Economy

The world economy will be dealt with in traditional G7 terms, based heavily on the talks among the finance ministers and their reports to the leaders. As there is little of great drama or disagreement on any of the major subjects here - macroeconomic policy coordination, international financial architecture, debt relief for the poorest, financial crime and Russia - this discussion should be relatively brief and straightforward (for background, see Kirton 2000b, Kirton 1999a).

2. Information Technology

Perhaps the most vibrant item on the Summit agenda at present is the role that information technology does and can play in transforming the world of the twenty-first century (Mori 2000). Here the emerging G8 consensus is that IT plays some positive role in the economy, but that academic analyses have as yet yielded no established agreement that there is a "new economy" taking effect. The G8 may thus be wary of using the phrase "new economy" in their communiqué. The communiqué could speak instead of "the revolutionary role of information technology for the greater prosperity." This will be portrayed as multifaceted and positive process that helps all people.

Here the leaders will also deal with elements of a U.S.-generated proposal for a liberalization package that could be seen as the new "four electronic freedoms." As initially conceived in the United States, this initiative was designed to maintain the process of trade liberalization at a time when the main process was stalled following the failed WTO ministerial talks in Seattle in December 1999. It was also intended to spread the benefits of information technology and the resulting "new economy" from the U.S. to other countries, and to open overseas markets to U.S. firms that would enjoy a global lead in this sector. 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 proportionally large 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.

When this initiative was first unveiled in the Summit preparatory process, it met with resistance from Europe and Japan, on the grounds that it appeared to be too obviously a self-interested U.S. proposal. But since the death of Obuchi and the decline of his vision, Prime Minister Mori's pre-Summit visit to Washington and the rise of information technology as the dominant theme of the Summit, it has acquired a new life.

A further 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.

The G8 will thus move on two dimensions: 1) to push the envelope on the positive side of IT; and 2) to extend the hand of solidarity to those who may drop out, both inside G8 countries and outside. The communiqué will speak of the "deepening opportunity" of IT, rather than the "digital divide" it creates, both within G8 countries and around the world.

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

A second item, which flows from information technology but is separate from and in some ways competitive with it, is development. This includes the key development factor of health. In the conception of the Japanese host, development is about improving the lives of ordinary citizens in each individual country. Development requires the ability to think, read, write and calculate, and hence 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 be a valuable step.

Development also requires healthy workers as well as educated ones. While health in developing countries is a complex challenge that defies overnight solutions, important steps can be taken (Mori 2000). 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 all on their own.

4. (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 (Bayne 2000) 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, 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 latter that Geneva-based broad multilateral trade liberalization could indeed work for them. Forging such an agreement is never an easy task even within the G7, and for Okinawa 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 much more exclusive and elitist 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 more effective, if much less transparent 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."

5. 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. 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, "multi-ethnicity" is the source of much 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.

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

The second pillar 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 one aimed at 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.

1. 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, and its proof 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.

2. 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 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 (Mori 2000). For example, take the case of 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 "bricks and mortar", iron and steel, heavy lifting 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.

3. Food Safety

A further issue is food safety, focused on developing a regime for the use of and trade in genetically modified organisms; more broadly, the subject expands to the products of the biotechnology revolution that may offer humankind benefits as large and revolutionary as information technology itself (Mori 2000). After the Montreal conference generated the Biosafety Protocol, following the failed effort earlier in Cartagena, it is easier for the G8 to find a common direction that will merge the conflicting approaches of North America and Europe. Although 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. But it will be one of setting a common principles and directions in Okinawa, rather than providing a detailed solution. A solution will require more detailed preparatory work, which is unlikely to be ready by July. 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.

4. Environment

The much broader set of environmental issues poses a more difficult challenge. 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 opt out of their obligations for 2002, especially as they know their expensive 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. The outcome of the Okinawa language on climate change remains very much in doubt.

Elsewhere, the communiqué will contain passages on forests and oceans. Some in Japan feel that a strong statement on forests is desirable, although this is not a widely shared view. There is more disagreement on what to say about the prospective "Rio plus ten" review, which would take place in the year 2002. That poses a problem for Canada and the U.S., who face the issue of whether to meet their climate change commitments in that same year.

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 (Kirton 2000a). Japan and its G8 partners want the twenty-first century to be a century of peace. Obuchi's Japan argued 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 (Obuchi 2000). Conflict prevention is thus a key thrust, following on the G8 foreign ministers first thematically focused stand-alone meeting in Berlin in December 1999 (Kirton 2000a). Although the leaders' discussions will depend heavily on the meetings of their foreign ministers in Miyazaki on July 12-13, and on the security crises that break on the eve of or during the Summit, the following directions should be maintained (2).


1. Conflict Prevention

Since the Berlin ministerial, 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 when to send in the "fire brigade." The need for early preventative action will be underscored.

2. Arms Control, Arms Reduction and Non-Proliferation

On arms control there will be some initiatives. Canada and Japan have formed a "holy alliance" along the line of their landmines cooperation, and will stress the need to link conflict prevention to debt relief. They note that the prestigious International Institute for Strategic Studies identifies 13 countries of the HIPC group as belligerents in armed conflict, and that some are producing arms. Others, Uganda among them, use scarce foreign currency to buy arms. The debt-relief process provides a lever in the campaign to control small arms. Canada and Japan are in the lead on this issue, as they are on the issue of children in armed conflict. The goal is to have the G8 send a strong message that international action is urgently needed.

3. Regional Security

The G8's regional security agenda is still somewhat fluid. Japan remains wary about focusing on issues that might upset its Asian neighbours. The United States will not want to highlight a Middle East where prospects for progress may be 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 do 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. Thus the G8, could build upon, as the G7 did in 1973-5 (Putnam and Bayne 1987). 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.

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 bringing the Asian Cold War to an end. But 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, and the start of a dynamic process of reassurance that could one day see China join Russia at the G8.

If the late prime minister Obuchi's potential legacy lies in the liberation of Japan's southern territories from the lingering remains of the tragedies brought by the twentieth century, the 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 on 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.

If so, and if he brings this ambition to realization, Mori will prove to be an accomplished practitioner of G8 concert diplomacy at its best. For at Munich in 1992, the first 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.


* The author expresses his appreciation to Professor Kunihiko Ito and his colleagues in the Faculty of Integrated Arts and Science at the University of Tokushima, Japan for the opportunity to refine his thoughts, present preliminary findings in a seminar and prepare the final draft of this paper during a reflective week in residence at Tokushima from July 11-18, 2000. The author is also appreciative of the many officials in G8 governments, relevant international institutions, and civil society organizations who took the time for confidential interviews, well placed colleagues who took the time for interviews and to review drafts, and the many members of the G8 Research Group who assisted with assembling relevant public materials across the often challenging expanse of the rich multitude of G8 languages.

1. The bulk of the research for this paper was completed at the end of May 2000, with selected updates into the third week of June. In some cases the sherpa process will have made adjustments or refinements beyond what is reported or suggested here. Moreover there are always the planned and unplanned surprises that leaders bring when they give the G8 their full attention. This portrait should thus be taken as an empirical foundation accurate at various points during the research period and one sufficient to yield a credible prediction based on the author's analytic model of the Summit process and the Summit's prospective and potential performance.

2. For the foreign ministers' meeting at Miyazaki, the agenda will be conflict prevention, the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), arms control and disarmament (ACD), and regional issues such as Kosovo, Chechnya and the Koreas.


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