Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Japan's Clear Sky Green G-8 Agenda

The Land of the Rising Sun became the new giant head of the richy-rich conglomeration of G-8 nations today. They have plans, big bold plans that merit serious discussion. But first, Japan had to get rid of the embarrassing environmental PR issue by delaying that hypocritical hunt to find and kill 50 humpback whales for some sort of diabolical biological testing that nobody understands. Australia, a member of the Group of 8, made their righteous whale snit known with a spying ice breaker ship and energetic cheering from the USA, who for the first time in a really long time was on the right side of an international issue. But all that recent country camaraderie could prove illusory as the BIG topic of Climate Change steams to the forefront of Japan's agenda.

The US Department of State will publicly welcome the topics, while cringing, strong-arming or delaying action in the background on major parts of an agenda of reducing greenhouse emissions, Africa's future development and the exploitation of its resources, outrageous oil prices and the prevention of further nuclear proliferation. For years, the Bush administration rejected the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, named for the city in Japan and knows the UN is also anxious for a signed consensus before the agreement expires. The unGreen Bush administration is in a prevent defense mode to stall progress on that front. Until recently, they were firm non-believers in Climate Change, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. China, while not an official G-8 kool kid, gets a coveted invitation with shuttle trips already occurring between the two governments. Things could be a mite tense as Japan's event is just before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, knowing China is one of the guilty top three Co2 polluters on the planet with enormous economic influence with all of their investments in Africa and the Middle East in exchange for resources. China is one of America's de facto bankers too, holding large sums of US debt. OOOH good times ahead. Diplomacy on parade!

Japan's Deputy Foreign Minister, Masaharu Kohno, says leaders need to reach a consensus on how to move the process forward when they meet.

"Without any common understanding among G8 leaders, we have to be very pessimistic about the outcome of the United Nations process," he said.

Japan will beautifully set the stage and have the international press spotlight in July as the summit takes place in Toyako, a swanky resort on the northern end of the volcanic island of Hokkaidō. But before the summit, Japan will leverage its influence with other regional Asian leaders with a pre-summit and discussion of the UN roadmap agreed to in Bali. Japan's Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda, has an ambitious plan to discuss additional topics of critical importance with the G-8 and first in Davos, Switzerland, such as global health care with emphasis on the UN focus on poverty and disease prevention programs.

"Environmental issues will be a big agenda" item at the summit, Fukuda said in a New Year statement.

"Japan hopes to lead the worldwide discussions in order to hand over clean skies to our children."

It has announced four main issues for the summit: environment and climate change; the world economy; development and Africa; and broad political issues such as nuclear non-proliferation and the fight against terrorism.

Last week, Fukuda vowed to use Japan's presidency to promote eco-friendly technology, saying "we must promote our technologies to the rest of the world. That should benefit Japan and the rest of the world."
And the heat goes on or rather up...

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