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No.213(2016/6/1)
G7 Ise-Shima Summit:
RENGO and Trade Unions of the World Issue Policy Proposals at Labour Summit

The 2016 G7 Ise-Shima Summit of government leaders in the major developed countries was held at the Shima Kanko Hotel in the city of Shima in Mie Prefecture on May 26–27. The summit was chaired by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and attended by the leaders of the G7 nations plus the presidents of the European Council and European Commission. At the meeting, the participants discussed measures to deal with international terrorism and refugees, political issues including North Korea's nuclear development, and economic policies to overcome the slowdown in newly emerging nations and achieve stable growth of the global economy. They also issued a statement pledging to stand up against the unstable international situation.

In addition to the summit, ministerial meetings are being held at 10 places in Japan until September, beginning with a meeting of foreign ministers held in Hiroshima on April 10. Furthermore, US President Barack Obama attracted international attention when, after the summit on May 27, he visited the atom-bombed city of Hiroshima, becoming the first incumbent US president ever to do so. The G7 summit was being held in Japan for the first time in eight years. The last meeting was the Toyako Summit in Hokkaido in 2008.

The G7 summit is an important opportunity for trade unions to show their international solidarity and propose policies. For this purpose, it is a custom for representatives of trade unions in the G7 countries, including RENGO (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), together with such international bodies as the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Trade Union Advisory Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD-TUAC), to gather in the host country for a labour summit, confirm the content of policy proposals, and hold discussions with the chair of the G7 summit (the president or prime minister of the host country). Labour summits have been held in the country hosting the G7 summit (or G8 summit from 1998 to 2013, when Russia also attended) ever since the London Summit of 1977. Policy discussions with the government leader of the host country, and summit chair, have taken place on every occasion except the Sea Island Summit in the United States under President George W. Bush.

This year the labour summit was held at the RENGO Headquarters on April 7 with RENGO President Rikio Kozu serving as chair. The participants formulated policy proposals to the G7 summit from the perspective of workers and ordinary people in the world. Noting that "2016 is proving to be the most dangerous year for the global economy since 2009," the Trade Union Statement to the G7 Ise-Shima Summit called for, among other things, the reduction of inequalities in society, the creation of employment and decent work, the promotion of gender equality, and action to combat environmental and climate issues. In particular, the statement emphasized the need to deliver on the two historic agreements that were concluded by the United Nations last year, that is, the UN Sustainable Development Goals for new social development toward 2030 (zero poverty) and the Paris Agreement on climate change (zero carbon).

After the labour summit on April 7, trade union representatives from the G7 countries and top officials from the ITUC, the Asia-Pacific regional office of the ITUC (ITUC-AP), and the OECD-TUAC held policy discussions with Prime Minister Abe, the G7 summit chair, at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo. In this meeting, after RENGO President Kozu had presented the policy demands, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow and TUAC General Secretary John Evans explained the details. Prime Minister Abe replied, "As chair of the G7, I want to promote discussions with the other government leaders and issue a clear message to realize the powerful growth of the world economy. I want to display leadership as the host country and promote discussions bearing in mind your demands."

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