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By Yuzuha Oka

A double life for a week: IMF World Bank Annual Meetings 2012

A double life for a week. An ordinary university student attended the IMF World Bank annual meetings 2012 as a youth fellow.

Youth Dialogue on Oct 10, 2012.

Youth Dialogue on Oct 10, 2012.

Everything began from one essay contest. The IMF essay contest was held this summer, and university students were asked to write a 500-word essay about youth perspectives on global economy and the role of IMF.

On September 3rd, I was surprised to receive an email from IMF saying that I was chosen as a finalist. I was invited to the IMF World Bank annual meetings, which was held from 9th to 14th October 2012. The meeting happened to coincide with the first week of classes in university. Not to miss a wonderful once in a lifetime opportunity, I decided to live a double life for a week.

On the morning of 9th, I had a meeting in Tokyo International Forum (TIF). There I met other youth fellows. Six were Japanese chosen by the IMF essay contest and there were 1 each representative from China, Korea, Thailand and Singapore. They were all university students. I was so happy to be able to make friends with those brilliant and nice people. They were from different backgrounds. Their majors included Economics, Chemistry, Literature.

On 10th, after English class at Komaba, I rushed to TIF again to attend the Youth Dialogue. Some of the youth fellows joined the dialogue as a panelist with Nemat Shafik, the deputy managing director of the IMF. They talked about youth concerns such as high unemployment rate, and discussed how Asian countries can cooperate with each other in the future.

Meeting at the Tokyo Imperial Hotel.

Meeting at the Tokyo Imperial Hotel.

On 11th, after 1st period, I went to the Tokyo Imperial Hotel. At the entrance, I went through a security check just like at the airport. I went into Kaede room with other youth fellows, and had a meeting with Naoyuki Shinohara, the deputy managing director of IMF. I asked a question about Japan, as Japan is suffering from huge debt.  My question was how IMF can help Japan get out of huge debt. His answer was that the Japanese government first must work out to reduce the debt. IMF cannot decide financial policy in place of the Japanese government. Still, IMF can give useful advice to the government.

After the meeting, I hurried to Komaba for Chinese class. In the evening I went back to Yurakucho and attended a town hall meeting with the Managing Director of IMF and the President of World Bank. I was amazed at the way the managing director answered each question from the participants. Using English and French, she answered respectfully, looking at each questioner.

IMF Panel Discussion on Oct 12, 2012. Author is second from right.

IMF Panel Discussion on Oct 12, 2012. Author is second from right.

A panel discussion concerning youth was held on October 12th. There were four people on the panel. Two were from the IMF, and the others were university students. I was one of the panelists and was asked to share concerns about economic issues.  What I came in mind was the inequality between men and women. Even though the inequality seems to be diminishing, there still is a fixed idea about the role of men and women. I argued that women should be treated equal to men in regard of jobs. After the discussion, I got some feedbacks from the participants, who were also university students. They told me that they also had the same concerns and that they sympathized with my opinion. I was so happy that I could share my opinion with people I had never met before.

Before attending the annual meetings, I never thought of studying economics by myself. However, as I had to give my opinion through the meetings, I came to put up an antenna on recent economic issues and tried to understand them. In order to raise interest on economic issues, I think this kind of opportunity, where youth can actually engage in discussions on economic issues, is needed. I definitely had a wonderful once in a lifetime experience.

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