Capitalism will not survive unless it undergoes a full makeover and focuses on benefiting people, former Polish President Lech Walesa said Monday in Tokyo.

Walesa, who in 1983 won the Nobel Peace Prize for advancing democracy through his position as a union leader, stressed that providing people with jobs and earnings is the foremost step in rebuilding the global economy.

“Money is being invested (toward) military affairs, which is unreasonable” when jobs are being lost worldwide, he said in a speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

Governments and banks must cooperate beyond borders to face the economic slump, he said, adding that continental unification efforts similar to those of the European Union should be carried out worldwide.

Walesa, who in 1990 became the first democratically elected president of Poland, said Japan must spread its knowledge and technological abilities globally and create new values.

“All the mistakes we make today will (exact their) revenge in the future,” he warned.

But the Polish icon remained optimistic, saying there is “nothing much that is necessary, just some additional details to find (a) solution.”

As one of Europe’s most admired political figures, Walesa offered some advice to Prime Minister Taro Aso: Be attentive to the public’s needs.

Asked if he had any advice for the unpopular leader, Walesa said he knew few details of politics in Japan. “But without the support of the public, it won’t be a long time” until changes take place, he said.

After ending his five-year stint as president in 1995, Walesa has been involved in supporting democracy through the Lech Walesa Institute. He is in Tokyo to promote agricultural exchanges between Poland and Japan.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.