TOKYO (Rahnuma): The attacks on Saudi Arabia grabbed all the headline attention at the G1 Global Conference in Tokyo, but the day-long think-in in Tokyo was more than just a survey of the dramatic headlines and images that had dominated the weekend media.
The event is now in its ninth year, as a global leaders’ conference conducted entirely in English on the big themes of international affairs, business, culture and society from a Japanese perspective.
One of the organizers called it the “Davos of Tokyo,” and while it may have fallen short of the famous Swiss Alpine gathering in numbers and glamour, the Sept. 16 event certainly rivaled it in the breadth and ambition of the agenda.
Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, set a high bar in an opening video address in which he said it was “Japan’s mission” to lead the world in resetting the transparent, rules-based international order that has been weakened by the populist waves in the US, Europe and elsewhere.
On the theme of “sustainable innovation in times of disruption”, the G1 followed a familiar pattern of plenaries, breakouts, workshops and networking, in the functional setting of the Globis University in downtown Tokyo. What it lacked in Alpine splendour, it more than made up for with the convenience of a one-day colloquium.
But first, the weekend’s news stole the show at the opening plenary, and was an elephant in the room for the rest of the day.
Taro Kono, the Japanese defense minister, declared the attacks on Saudi oil installations and the threat to global oil supplies the “most worrying scenario” in the world today.
He was backed up by John Chipman, director general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, who criticized the failure of the US and its allies in the Middle East and elsewhere to counter Iranian expansion in the region.