Marilena Yo is currently an undergraduate student at the School of International Liberal Studies at Waseda University. She attended the Y20 Summit 2015, which was held in Istanbul, Turkey. She is also a member of G8&G20 Youth Summits Japan, the organizing committee of the Y7 Summit Japan 2016.
Y7 Summit Japan 2016 Interview
Alumni and Trainer of the Japanese Delegation
What is G8&G20 Youth Summits Japan?
G8 & G20 Youth Summits Japan is an organization largely run by students, which is in charge of recruiting and training the Japanese delegation for the Y7 and Y20 summits. The organization is compromised of two large groups. One is the organizing committee, and the other one is the delegation. The organizing committee does the back office work, including finding sponsors, organizing the recruitment and training of delegations, advertisement, etc. In addition, we are in charge of organizing the summit itself, when the host country is Japan.
How did you get involved?
I first heard of the summit in a university class, where past delegates gave a lecture and advertised the recruitment of new delegates for the Y20 Summit. I was immediately interested in the opportunity and so I applied. I actually had the last interview on my birthday, and luckily I passed so that's how I got involved! After we went to the summit in Istanbul, most of us continued to be active in the organizing committee.
What is your job now in the organizing committee?
Right now, I am involved in the recruitment and the training of the Y7 and Y20 delegations. This includes organizing training days, providing mentoring in the preparation process, setting up expert visits and accompanying the delegations to them. In a way I also serve as a communicator between the delegates and the organizing committee.
How did you feel representing Japan in Y20 Turkey 2015, being half German?
That’s a very good question. I was very honored to be representing Japan in the Summit. Traditionally, Japan is a very homogeneous country, and so a lot of times people judge me by my appearance as not being Japanese. Most Japanese also treat me as a foreigner even though I see myself as being Japanese. Therefore, representing Japan in such an important summit made me feel as if I was finally accepted as being Japanese and I felt very honored.
How did you feel about the German delegation at the summit? A bit of chit chat in German?
It was definitely easy to connect to the German delegation, because I am half German and I also speak German. I think there were a lot of topics during the negotiations that the German and Japanese delegation agreed upon. We were able to support each other in policy proposals prior to the summit. And I think me being half German definitely made it easier to have this connection.
What was the greatest achievement participating in the Y20 Summit?
For me personally, the greatest achievement from Turkey last year was when my key policy proposal was included in the communiqué. The topic I participated in during the summit was Education in the 21st Century. One of my key proposals was about the concept of peace education and how it should be incorporated in the official education curricula of the G20 countries. I was very pleased when the proposal passed through the last round and when it was included in the communiqué.
What was something most memorable during your participation of the Y20 summit?
Definitely the people I met. Not only the fellow Japanese Delegates, but also to the Delegates from all over the world I met during the summit in Turkey. We, the Japanese delegation, grew very close over the months of preparation, and experiencing the summit together. All the people I met were incredible, interesting and inspiring people, from whom I was able to learn so much from. The summit itself was an amazing experience, but meeting and getting to know these people was an equally wonderful experience. I am very happy that I am still in touch with a lot of the delegates. I have also seen many of them after the summit, both in and outside of Japan and hopefully this network I got to be a part of is going to last for a lifetime.
What were some challenges you faced during the Summit?
I would say, trimming down the communiqué to a certain amount of pages. We had three different topics that had to be fitted within three pages. Not only were there a lot of countries with a lot of delegates participating, we all had great proposals, too. Since, there were a lot of worthwhile ideas we wanted to include, trying to get all ideas in, but cutting it down at the same time was very challenging.
What do you think of this year’s themes?
I was partly involved in choosing the themes, and I think this year’s themes are very interesting and very current. First of all, we tried to choose topics that are relevant to Japan but also to other Y7 countries. One of the sub-topics is the demographic (mobility) shift. This is a really relevant topic for Japan because Japan has the most advanced aging society in the whole world. For Japan, it is a very pressing issue. However, at the same time Japan can act as a front-runner. Japan, because it has experienced this demographic shift so severely, it can be in a position to advise other countries about their future. This topic is also very relevant to other countries, because all of the Y7 countries are already facing, or are going to face the problems related to demographic change.
Another topic that I find very interesting is the technology topic. Delegates will be discussing about how we will be reacting to technological advancement. I think that this is a very current and important topic that hasn’t been discussed much. For our generation especially, it is important to move forward thinking about issues in the topic of singularity.
What are you looking for from the Japanese delegation of this year’s summit?
This year is very special, because Japan is the host country. The delegation is not only the delegation, but they are the host as well. They have to be hosting the event, they have to be facilitating, but at the same time they have to be delegates. Bringing all that into one will be challenging, but also really rewarding. I hope they will be able to combine these skills.
Can you give us a few words for Y7 delegations as a past participant of the Summit?
First of all, have a ton of fun; get to know as many people as you can! Second of all, try to produce the best communiqué that you could possibly do, try to be productive, and try to leave something that you can be proud of.