TIES STRENGTHENED

NGOs eye future cooperation

by Setsuko Kamiya and Junko Takahashi

NAGO, Okinawa Pref. — With the official closing of the Group of Eight summit here Sunday, some nongovernmental organizations say they have strengthened their ties and will cooperate in working toward — among other things — resolved conflicts, a healthy environment and human rights.

The activists called on the G8 leaders to give them opportunities to directly communicate with them on an equal basis.

Out of the 44 domestic and international NGOs listed at the NGO Center here, 18 jointly urged the G8 leaders to immediately honor all commitments they have made at international conventions and summits on poverty, health issues and primary education.

“We call for the G8 countries to set appropriate regulations concerning liberalization of trade, which leads to environmental destruction, invasion of human rights and monopoly of resources by the richest countries,” a statement the groups issued said.

The groups also called for a solution to all conflicts through dialogue that transcends borders, race and religion.

At a news conference Sunday, 16 Okinawan NGOs made a separate statement, demanding the immediate consolidation and reduction of U.S. military bases in the prefecture, or if possible their elimination. They also called for cancellation of the plan to build a new military-commercial airport in the Henoko district here.

The Okinawan activists also said the G8 countries bear a major responsibility on global warming, calling on the industrialized nations to work toward an ecosystem that will sustain the world’s environment.

Summit ‘squandered’ according to Jubilee 2000

NAGO, Okinawa Pref. (Kyodo) Jubilee 2000, an international group campaigning for debt relief for poor nations, criticized this year’s gathering of the Group of Eight countries, saying “this will be known as the squandered summit.”

Ann Pettifor, director of the London-based group, said in a statement that the G8 leaders “have squandered a historic opportunity to cancel the unpayable debts of the poorest countries.

“They have merely repeated their promises of a year ago.”

The G8 leaders pledged to step up debt relief so that by the end of the year 20 countries will become eligible for the elimination of their debts. Nine countries are currently eligible.

The initiative was hammered out for heavily indebted poor countries at the previous summit held in June 1999 in Cologne, Germany.