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Behind the success of the Y7 Summit

This past May, the G7 Summit Japan was held in Ise-Shima, Mie Prefecture. Prior to the Ise-Shima Summit, youth delegates from G7 and observer countries gathered to discuss global issues. Known as the Y7 Summit, the outcomes of this conference will be forwarded to state and government leaders at the G7 Summit to offer perspectives from future global leaders. We asked Shuichiro Chiba (School of International Liberal Studies, Class of 2015), the president of Y7, to share his experience organizing the event.

– How did you call for members and organize the meeting?

I had neither funding nor manpower, but my network of friends and acquaintances introduced me to prospective participants. I asked for sponsorship from corporations and gained the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which made realizing this event possible. We welcomed five delegates under 30 years old from each country and state: England, the United States, Germany, France, Italy, the European Union, and Japan. Moreover, participants from Turkey, Norway, and Cameroon attended as observers, totaling the number of representatives to 43. From April 30 to May 3, we gathered at Waseda University International Conference Center and created a joint statement (Joint Communiqué) to submit to the government leaders at the G7 Summit.

– What drove you to organize the Y7 Summit?

The first and foremost reason for hosting the Y7 summit was to propose policy reform ideas to the host country of the G7 Summit. As a concerned young citizen, I felt great significance in being able to share a different point of view with politicians and bureaucrats through the Joint Communiqué. Perhaps, there has not been much opportunity for young people under 30 to voice their opinions about the problems they face in today’s society. Furthermore, it is crucial for younger generations from different backgrounds and values to engage in discussions on global issues and come to a consensus together.

The second reason is that I wanted to create space for young people to become influenced by the actions their peers are taking.

There are so many young people abroad who are fighting for a cause beyond our expectations. For example, when I attended the 2013 Y20 Summit in Russia, I met so many inspirational youth, such as an EU representative whose opinions had influence against the government’s policy making committee over national and international politics an Indian representative who has contributed to people’s lives by developing and commercializing an effective pesticide. I couldn’t believe that they were all under 30! In this way, I wanted to motivate young people within and out of the country to take action by sharing what young people in other country are doing and exchanging ideas on global issues.

-Tell us more in-depth about the Y7 program.

There were mainly three events: 1) the discussion, which is the Summit’s main event, 2) lectures by experts knowledgeable on G7 Summit agenda topics, and 3) Culture Night, a cultural exchange event for participants. The discussion covered three major topics: international security (terrorism and refugees), sustainable development (gender equality, social entrepreneurship, and inequality in education), and labor and economy (aging society, technology and labor). Although we did not cite G7’s final communiqué, some parts of our statement were very much alike. I believe we have achieved cooperation between Y7 and G7. Y7’s final communique is available here.

We invited 11 guest speakers with expertise in the areas discussed, including Sukehiro Hasegawa, the previous special representative of the secretary-general of the United Nations. Over 300 participants attended the event, creating opportunities for people to learn about Y7 and the global issues we are presently facing within and out of the country.

Finally, there was Culture Night. To introduce Japanese culture to overseas participants, a four-day performance of shamisen (a traditional Japanese string instrument), wadaiko (Japanese drums), Japanese traditional dance, Awa dance, and contemporary music was held. I hope they were able to experience different aspects of Japanese culture.

– How do you feel about the summit overall?

Despite this being plan so suddenly, I appreciate all the support we received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mie Prefecture, and corporations. In addition, I am thankful that we were able to hold this summit because of the efforts made by all committee members.

Fortunately, we had media coverage from NHK and other foreign media, from countries such as Germany, Canada, and the United States. Together with G7, I wish Y7 will grow larger in the years to come.