KOGA Says! RENGO's Statement by General Secretary

Koga says!
At the Closing of G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit

10 July 2008
RENGO’s Statement by General Secretary Koga
  1. The G8 Hokkaido-Toyako Summit ended with the adoption of its Summit Leaders Declaration (hereafter “the Leaders Declaration”). It is noted that the Leaders Declaration pointed out the reduction of nuclear weapons and the verification of existing nuclear programs by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and that the abduction issue was specified in the leaders declaration for the first time. However, while the Leaders Declaration referred to the economic and financial crisis and the social instability expanding under globalization, and the starvation and poverty being caused by serious influence of the sharp rises in oil and food prices upon the most vulnerable people in the world, as well as to the issue of global warming which is in a critical situation, it did not produce a strong enough message to break through these issues and did not fully respond to the expectation of the working people and their families of the world.

  2. RENGO, preceding the G8 Summit Meeting, had developed lobbying activities to the Japanese government including various ministries, and hosted the G8 Trade Union Leaders’ Meetings with the Japanese Prime Minister and G8 Labour Ministers with the participation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Trade Union Advisory Committee to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (TUAC), trade union leaders of the G8 countries and other leaders. With the Statement adopted by the G8 Trade Union Leaders’ Meeting, these trade union leaders made presentations to Prime Minister Fukuda and demanded such issues as 1) Responding to the increasing economic and financial crisis, 2) Placing fair distribution at the heart of policies, 3) Delivering promises to developing countries on the issues like starvation, poverty and HIV/AIDS, 4)Building the social dimension of globalization and effective involvement of the trade unions in the Heiligendamm process, 5) Tackling climate change: green jobs as a driver for climate change solutions, 6) Striving for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, so that these issues could be reflected in the discussion of the G8 Summit Meeting.

  3. In the Leaders Declaration, however, in its part of “World Economy”, the leaders recognized that they remained positive about the long-term resilience of their economies and future world economic growth. This recognition has to be said too optimistic and too far away from the reality of the life of citizens and their anxiety. Moreover, not only no viewpoint from the fair distribution can be seen, but also the reference made on the “corporate social responsibility” which was stressed in the leaders declaration last year was very weak this time. We cannot help saying that the Leaders Declaration retreated greatly from last year’s Heiligendamm Declaration which emphasized the importance of “the social dimension of globalization”.

    With regard to environment and climate change, G8 countries agreed 1) each G8 country shares the goal of achieving at least 50% reduction emission of greenhouse gases by 2050 and this challenge will be adopted through international negotiations, 2) an ambitious mid-term total emission goal will be set country by country, 3) major emission economies will need to commit to binding reduction targets by the end of 2009, and so forth. However, in general, all these commitments end with ambiguous contents as are seen in the unclearness of a baseline year for long-term goals and no specific figures for emission reductions are shown in the mid-term goals. Moreover, it is a great regret that there was no reference about the green jobs strategy which had also been taken up in the G8 Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting.

    Concerning Development and Aid to Africa, it is appreciated that not only commitments to strengthen health care systems including countermeasures to infectious diseases, maternal and child health and nurturing of health workers, but also the importance of NGOs were stated, but due to the lack of funding sources for their supports their effectiveness is feared. In this connection, further commitments of the Japanese government as the host country are necessary and essential. Moreover, although the support for decent work agenda was strongly launched last year, no reference was made about it this year. “The creation of decent work” is an important factor to substantially secure the reduction of poverty, and the lack of this part is extremely problematic.

    As for food security, the conclusion was in line with the response demanded by the international trade union movement, and the abolition of export restrictions as well as commitments to urgent needs for the most vulnerable people are most welcome. However, concerning mid-term and long-term responses, no countermeasures against real reasons including monitoring the speculative money which is said to be one of the reasons of steep rises in food prices are shown. A substantial solution is still far away.

    With regard to disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, it is welcomed that it was incorporated in the text that all the nuclear-weapon states are demanded to reduce their nuclear weapons with transparency. It is also welcomed that G8 showed their resolution for the success of the 2010 UN Review Conference of the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). But it is essential that the nuclear-weapon states guarantee to concretely implement abolition of their nuclear weapons.
    It is appreciated that the issue of abduction was incorporated in the text of the G8 Summit Leaders Declaration for the first time with the support of the heads of the states.

  4. There is a view concerning G8 Summit Meeting that “the purpose of the Meeting is to discuss freely and frankly among the heads of the states and no concrete results should be expected”, but in order to gain reliability from the civil society of the world as an essential existence for the stability and development of the world community, it is necessary to concretely and gradually carry out the items agreed this time, accompanying the promotion of the follow-ups of those points which were insufficiently discussed.

    RENGO will, together with Global Unions and trade unions of G8 countries, continue to campaign for demanding concrete actions to international organizations, inter-governmental meetings and individual governments, so that the redress of unfairness and injustice in global society and its sustainable development can be secured.