APEC Junior Conference closes in Hiroshima with declaration for a brighter future

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

On February 23, the 2010 APEC Junior Conference in Hiroshima, for which 37 youths from member nations and regions of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) had gathered, held a meeting in the east wing of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum to bring together their determination and proposals for solving regional issues into a declaration. A representative of the participants then handed the declaration to the chair of the APEC Japan 2010 Senior Officials' Meeting I (SOM I) and the junior conference concluded its four-day gathering.

The declaration lists, along with actions that young people should take, concrete proposals in four fields, such as the environment and education: 1) shifting to alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, 2) ensuring education opportunities and enhancing peace and moral education, and 3) promoting international cooperation to prevent piracy. The participants summarized their impressions during the junior conference and put them into the preface of the declaration: "We understand the strong sentiments of the people of Hiroshima calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons."

Risa Kushioka, 18, a third-year student at Hiroshima Jogakuin Senior High School, handed the declaration to Shigeru Nakamura, Ambassador for International Economic Affairs, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who served as chair at the SOM I. Ms. Kushioka commented with satisfaction, "We have developed a declaration that we could submit with confidence. We hope they will take the declaration to heart."

Major points of the declaration
--We understand the strong sentiments of the people of Hiroshima calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
--We will promote awareness of the environment.
--We understand that education is a right.
--We will increase awareness of one another's differences and promote better understanding in order to achieve our goal of peace.
--We will review our current consumption patterns so that we will not waste food.

(Originally published on February 24, 2010)

Discussions concluded, APEC Junior Conference ends with farewell party

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

The APEC Junior Conference ended its four-day gathering with a farewell party at Welcity Hiroshima on the evening of February 23. The participants, who had earnestly exchanged views with one another during the discussions, now wore relaxed expressions. They were dressed in colorful traditional attire, exchanged farewell greetings, and reluctantly prepared themselves for parting.

At the party, which began with a performance of Koto, or Japanese harps, by 22 students from Hiroshima's Funairi High School, the participants enjoyed dinner, sang songs, and played the piano in turn. Muhammad Hazim bin Mohamad, 16, and Sharandeep Jasdeep Singh, 16, both from Malaysia, stirred excitement in the audience by performing a traditional dance. They asked shyly, out of breath: "Did you enjoy our dance?"

The conference participants from various nations and regions, as well as local high school students who supported the conference as volunteers, were seen to take commemorative photos one after another. Ahmad Faiz Bin Haji Zailani, 18, from Brunei, said confidently, "Human relations are the important thing. This conference has convinced me that there is no reason why we can't cooperate with each other beyond national borders."

(Originally published on February 24, 2010)

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APEC Junior Conference Declaration

We, the delegates of Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; China; Indonesia; Japan; Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; Papua New Guinea; Peru; the Philippines; Russia; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; the United States and Viet Nam, have convened for the 2010 APEC Junior Conference in Hiroshima, Japan, on February 20 to 23, 2010.

The theme of this Conference is “Our Future, the Earth’s Future: Creating a Peaceful, Prosperous Society.” This theme reflects the growing concern among leaders and youths about the importance of cooperating and living together in a common region, and the importance of the need to find ways to resolve the complex, social, economic, and environmental challenges of the future.

We, the delegates, feel that our meeting in Hiroshima is significant in many ways. Sixty-five years ago Hiroshima experienced the first atomic bombing in human history. After visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and listening to the testimony of a survivor of the atomic bombing, we understand the strong sentiments of the people of Hiroshima calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons and their pursuit of PEACE.

We, the delegates, feel that sustainable economic development which the APEC Member Economies strive for is premised by PEACE in the international community. To resolve the complex social, economic, and environmental challenges in the region, we declare the following points of Recognition and Recommendations. We ask the APEC leaders to take into consideration our ideas and dialogue to facilitate a more comprehensive dialogue of “all” of the people concerned in the region.


We Recognize:
That deforestation is a major cause of soil erosion, desertification, loss of agricultural output, biodiversity and the destruction of habitat;
That the emission of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, black carbon and carbon monoxide, is a factor causing problems, including global warming, air pollution, and the changes in sea level; and
That fresh water is a precious resource that needs to be conserved to prevent problems such as water scarcity, lack of sanitary drinking water, and an increase in droughts,

We Recommend:
That energy needs to be conserved in the forms of environmentally friendly alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power along with improving the efficiency of public transport by decreasing energy usage;
That the merging of economic development and sustainable development to ensure that all possible means are implemented to preserve the environment; and
That after assessing the lack of communication and cooperation between developed and developing economies, both sides should take responsibility for their relative contributions to climate change, through understanding and appreciating the differences between them and striving for international cooperation. Developed economies should extend funding, technological resources, and technical assistance towards those who need it; and in turn, developing economies should fulfill their own responsibilities towards the environment by using the said assistance in a trustworthy manner.

Our Commitment:
We, as youth committed to developing an environmentally conscious society for future generations, believe that by starting out small, we can promote awareness through social networking, forums, and movements within local communities. In addition, we emphasize the importance of cooperation between youth and regional organizations, governments, and NGOs to spread our message.


We Recognize:
That a lack of education and training of teachers leads to poor quality education;
That insufficient government support leads to inaccessibility, inadequacy, and inequity of educational opportunities;
That students have limited opportunities to be exposed to perspectives about concepts such as moral, environment, and peace education; and
That student safety is a major concern in the school environment.

We Recommend:
That there should be a rise in standards for teacher training, to further involve and educate the student;
That governments must provide sufficient financial and human resources for educational purposes, through both domestic and regional cooperation;
That governments create plans to broaden students' horizons that place emphasis on peace and the environment from multiple angles and morality in detail, so that these can be sustained for generations to come; and
That safety issues concerning students should be dealt with by both teachers and parents, while schools need to take necessary precautions to ensure the safety of each student.

Our Commitment:
We commit ourselves to seeing education as a right, and to acknowledge our responsibility as students to encourage and motivate all members of our communities to value education.


We Recognize:
That people from different cultures interpret and express messages differently due to language and cultural differences, increasing chances of misunderstanding;
That we only accept those of a different culture but do not actually adapt to make them feel more comfortable; and
That conflicts are common experiences in all relationships between and within cultures due to the failure in accepting one another’s differences.

We Recommend:
That we increase our awareness and identify our differences of perceptions and interpretations. Then, we can learn to confront, negotiate and compromise in order to promote better understanding;
That we learn to adapt, in addition to accepting others’ cultural differences, to truly achieve mutual harmony between respective parties; and
That we acknowledge and accept one another’s differences to prevent intra- and intercultural conflicts and work towards achieving our ultimate goal of peace.

Our Commitment:
We will increase awareness of one another’s differences and work together to promote better understanding in order to achieve our ultimate goal of peace.


We Recognize:
That free trade is facing shortcomings such as marginalization, market-opening pressure, and double standards;
That food insecurity is caused by problems in production, distribution, and even wastage of food; and
That piracy and terrorism in trade routes are threats to business and free trade essential to sustaining growth and prosperity.

We Recommend:
That incorporating some elements of fair trade will give impetus to actualizing APEC’s goals of attaining balanced, inclusive, and sustainable growth;
That the transfer of technology regarding the development of more resilient and sustainable varieties of staple crops; allocation of food as well as promotion of self-sufficiency via a strategic distribution system; and education of industries and individuals of member economies are ensured; and
That APEC member economies expand on the UN Resolution 1838 by reinforcing multilateral deterrence along the coast of Somalia and the Straits of Malacca to prevent piracy.

Our Commitment:
Food is a vital necessity for all and must not be considered as a means of earning profit, but a source of ensuring the well-being of life; it is integral to the sustainability of economic development that food is not wasted. Thus we should alter current consumption patterns.