G21 Press Cuttings

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The Daily Yomiuri, November 10, 1999

Kyoto Symposium chance to bridge generation gap

KYOTO-A symposium to promote discussion between young people and their elders on topics of international importance will be held from November 26 to 28 at the Kyoto Museum for World Peace, Ritsumeikan University in Kita Ward, Kyoto.

The symposium, titled "Youth at the Millennium" will feature guest speakers from overseas.

About 30 students from 21 countries and invited guests will participate in a series of dialogues, workshops, a panel discussion and an open forum during the three-day event.

The guests will be Yohan Galtung, a visiting professor at Ristumeikan University; Satish Kumar, editor of Resurgence, an ecological/spiritual magazine; Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi; Edith Hanson of Amnesty International Japan; Prof. Nandini Iyer of the University of California, Santa Barbara; Prof. Kinhide Mushakouji of Ferris University, Paul Leslie of the Community Action Network, UK; and Adam Wolpert of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center.

Topics under discussion will include green economics, democracy, peace and spirituality. All of the discussions will be held in English, but some will feature Japanese interpretation.

The symposium was the idea of Group 21, a nongovernmental organisation formed in 1997.

The group, comprising mainly Kansai-based academics, first came to prominence when it submitted more than 12,000 postcards, sent in by children and young people in 55 countries concerned about the environment, to delegates at the COP3 climate-change conferencein Kyoto in December the same year.

The group has held meetings, workshops and forums to address issues of global importance.

Robert Kowalcyzk, coordinator of the symposiumand a professor at Kinki University, said the symposium would give young people the opportunity to voice their opinions and forge links between the generations.

The symposium will open at 3 p.m. on Nov.26. Dialogues between speakers and members of the audience will be held from 7 p.m., and will continue from 9.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. on Nov.27 and from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. on Nov.28. Workshop A. on peace, transcending intolerance, and urban youth will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and Workshop B, on reverential ecology, education and non-violence, and vision into reality will be held from 3.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. on Nov.27, followed by a panel discussion and open forum from 7.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.

The event will close at 3.30 p.m. on Nov.28, followed by a chance to chat with the speakers.

The group plans to post statements made by the participants on the internet.

Organisers are seeking donations for the conference. People can send money by postal transfer to Anzai Ikuro Heiwa Kikin (Anzai Ikuro Peace Fund), No. 00980-0-133528, or to the fund's account at the Kinkakuji branch of Kyoto Bank, No. 3665192.

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Kansai Time Out, November 1999

Youth at the Millennium

Sally McLaren previews this months youth symposium in Kyoto

Once again a group of Kyoto residents are out to give young people a voice in their future. Between November 26th - 28th of this year, Group 21, in association with the Kyoto Museum for World Peace of Ritsumeikan University, will be staging a symposium entitled "Youth at the Millennium". "Something exciting is about to happen in Kyoto," says Robert Kowalczyk, coordinator of Group 21. "I can't think of any other event at the end of 1999 that will have deeper significance for young people, both locally and internationally, than this one."

The symposium will be an inter-generational dialogue on issues of concern for the future. "Essentially, it's about the role and future of youth in a global society. We've asked our guest panelists to prepare presentations based on what they would like to pass on to the next generation. A variety of issues will emanate from this central theme." Kowalczyk says that the aim of the project is to educate and empower. A core group of about thirty international young people, from a wide variety of countries including Japan, will attend the symposium as delegates. They will share the stage with the guest speakers, attend all the activities and work together on a group closing statement to the symposium.

Aside from the delegates, the symposium hopes to welcome many young participants, both Japanese and foreign. "We are offering an opportunity for young men and women to express their hopes, their problems and their fears about the future. We believe that the chemistry of young people interacting with their elders will create a different type of symbiosis from which new ideas can be born."

An impressive group of speakers has been invited to participate. Kowalczyk says, "They all have views of the world that have been widely respected and are acknowledged as being progressive and global in their wisdom. They have all shown deep concerns about the existing problems through teaching, speeches, writings, television appearances and different foundations they are involved in".

The list of speakers includes Johan Galtung , Yasushi Akashi (former Undersecretary General of the UN), Edith Hanson (President of Amnesty International, Japan), Satish Kumar (Editor of Resurgence, a magazine on ecological and spiritual values), Kinhide Mushakoji (Professor of International Relations, Ferris University), Nandini Iyer (Professor of Comparative Religions, UC Santa Barbara), Paul Leslie (Community Action Network) and Arun and Sunanda Gandhi (Founders of the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence).

"They are messengers of hope", says Kowalczyk, "and we feel that it's particularly appropriate that they should be speaking and listening to young people while sharing their ideas for our future."

Over the three days of the symposium there will be panel discussions, lectures, workshops and an open forum. Kowalczyk stresses that these are open to anyone, both younger people and adults, interested in youth, the future and the global society. The symposium will also be accessible through the Internet. At the moment the G21 website contains information about both the symposium and the speakers coming to Kyoto.

"We also hope to make direct links with universities and groups in other countries through the website and we are hoping that university teachers in the Kansai area will bring their students."

Statements from the speakers and delegates will be posted on the website before, during and after the symposium. Kowalczyk also points out that the conference will be mostly in English although G21 will make an effort to have a number of talks and workshops in Japanese. Other activities, such as the open forum, will be bilingual. Funding for the conference has come from the Mitsubishi Fund and the Japan Foundation. However, fundraising efforts are continuing to ensure an effective and efficient symposium.

"We had a meeting with a group of potential delegates in July and saw from their reaction that they were very excited and eager to participate. They had tremendous ideas and energy that will no doubt come forth at the symposium. To have people of different generations thinking about the future together here in Kyoto will make the November symposium a very special event."

Group 21 started in 1997 with the COP3 conference on global warming in Kyoto. Kowalczyk explains, "We originally got together as a discussion group, mostly about globalisation and its effects. When we realised that the COP3 conference was coming to Kyoto we decided not only to talk about it but to do something that might have an effect."

The group, a mix of Japanese and expatriate volunteers, brought together 21 young people from 21 different countries, ages 1 to 21, to express their concerns about global warming to the participants of the conference. A postcard campaign was run through the Internet and over 12,000 postcards were received from 55 countries. At COP3, members of the youth delegation presented the cards to delegates. "It showed we had an effect that was global and we received tremendous media coverage both in Japan and overseas. The project also proved that youth have a great deal of untapped potential and that they can be highly influential in issues concerning their future".

The inspiration for this year's project came through further discussion with Johan Galtung, founder of Peace Studies and a visiting professor at Ritsumeikan University. "Dr. Galtung encouraged us to keep the group together and to think about inviting noted visionaries from around the world to a conference on global issues. We eventually came up with the idea of Youth at the Millennium."

The opening ceremony of this month's symposium will be held on Friday, November 26th, starting at 3:30 pm. A series of "Dialogues", short talks followed by discussion between the speaker and audience, will commence that evening at 7:00 pm. These talks will also take place on Saturday and Sunday mornings beginning at 9:00 and running till noon. After a two hour break, concurrent workshops will be conducted in the afternoon of both days. Saturday evening, from 7:30 to 9:30, a panel discussion will be followed by an open forum with questions and comments from the audience. The closing ceremony will begin at 4:30 Sunday afternoon.

All of the activities will be held at the Kyoto Museum for World Peace of Ritsumeikan University, located at 56-1 Kitamachi, Toji-in, Kita-ku, Kyoto (tel: 075-465-8151). Although reservations are not essential, one can be assured of a seat by sending a return-type postcard ("oofuku hagaki") to: Marguerite Shaddy, 43-4-202 Ogura Higashi-machi, Hirakata, Osaka 573-1174. Please include your telephone number and the names of those that will attend with you on the card. Also, please indicate the day(s) you are planning to attend. Attendance is free.

If you are interested in attending and participating in the symposium please contact:

Group 21
1 Minamigoshomachi
Okazaki, Sakyo-ku
Kyoto 606-8334
Tel/Fax: 075 771 1949 E-mail: g21@jca.apc.org Website: http://www.jca.apc.org/g21

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The Washington Post, October 28, 1999

The turning of a millennium should be a time of grand reckoning. Symbolic dates call for symbolic acts, and these dates and acts can acquire real, concrete meaning if they are used as an excuse - and an opportunity - for innovative thinking. What better reason than the passing of 1,000 years in the calendar will we ever have for grand dreams about the future and for solemn reevaluation of the past? Coming to terms with the past can position a society for the future; it frees the imagination and allows us to dream.

- James Reston
The Washington Post

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