“What the world and Japan will be like in 2050”
High School Students discuss global affairs

On February 3 2018, the WHO Kobe Centre, along with the Hyogo Prefectural Board of Education and Osaka University, organized the WKC forum “High School Students’ Day: Let’s Discuss International Relations” at the Kobe Fashion Mart Hall. About 450 students participated, mainly from high schools in Hyogo prefecture, and shared their views of what the world and Japan would look like in 2050.

In the keynote speech entitled, “The World and Japan in 2050, A Model for the World”, Mr Shinjiro Nozaki, External Relations Officer of the WHO Kobe Centre said, ”By 2050, Japan will have experienced many population changes including a further lowering in birth-rate and population decline, along with an increase in its overall age. The Japanese economy will have slowed down, and its GDP is expected to rank 8th in the world. The mass media in Japan is already filled with pessimistic stories about the country’s future. ‘Who will take care of Japan’s elders? Who will pay taxes to support Japan’s public programs?’, they ask. But I do not think we need to be so pessimistic. Japan has been a world leader while also being super-ageing society and has learnt many precious lessons on how to adapt. Japan will show the world how an ageing society can be a healthy society where people enjoy their lives.”

In the following panel discussion, four high school students took the podium. First, Mr. Kota Matsunaga, a second-year student at Kobe High School said, "I think the society with a shrinking population needs to be more productive. Luckily, Japanese industry has a rich experience for productivity, but must create new technologies, AI for an example”.
Ms. Rina Maekawa, a second-year student at Sasayama Houmei High School said, "We need to pay more attention to hunger in the world. There is enough food to feed the world but people still suffer from hunger. We, high school students, can try to reduce food loss and waste.”
Next, Ms. Risa Nishimura, a second-year student at Akashi Kita High School year said, "We need to lean from the old Japanese spirit: to place more importance on spiritual wealth than material wealth. And in the era of science and technologies, we must empower people to be masters, not slaves.”
Finally, Ms. Mina Wakimasu, a second-year student at Kakogawa Higashi High School, said, "Japan is too dependent on outside sources and imports. Utilizing current and new technologies, I think Japan can contribute to the emerging economies in a better way by building mutual relationships. We need to pay more attention on how the goods and products are made in the origin countries.”

In the following Q&A session, topics for discussion included concerns about age discrimination, the oppression of technology such as the prevalence of smart phones and their addictive use by high school students, the replacement of human labour with AI, and Japan’s role in the global refugee crisis.

In the afternoon, 74 oral and poster sessions by the students were given.