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Tokyo (Asia Pacific Group)|
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Yasuchika Hasegawa (Asia Pacific chairman)|
Jean-Claude Trichet (European chairman)
Joseph S. Nye, Jr. (North American chairman)
The Trilateral Commission is a non-governmental, non-partisan discussion group founded by David Rockefeller in July 1973 to foster closer cooperation among Japan, Western Europe and North America.
The Trilateral Commission was formed in 1973 by private citizens of Japan, North American nations (the U.S. and Canada), and Western European nations to foster substantive political and economic dialogue across the world. The idea of the Commission was developed in the early 1970s, the time of considerable discord among the United States and its allies in Western Europe, Japan and Canada. To quote its founding declaration:
Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981, professor at Columbia University, and a Rockefeller advisor who was a specialist on international affairs, left his post to organize the group along with:
The Trilateral Commission initiated its biannual meetings in October 1973 in Tokyo, Japan. In May 1976, the first plenary meeting of all of the Commission's regional groups took place in Kyoto, Japan. Since the ninth meeting in 1978, plenary meetings have taken place annually. Besides annual plenary meetings, regional meetings have also taken in place by each of the Asia Pacific Group, the European Group and the North American Group. Since its founding, the discussion group has produced an official journal called Trialogue.
Membership is divided into numbers proportionate to each of the think tank's three regional areas. The North American continent is represented by 120 members (20 Canadian, 13 Mexican and 87 U.S. citizens). The European group has reached its limit of 170 members from almost every country on the continent; the ceilings for individual countries are 20 for Germany, 18 for France, Italy and the United Kingdom, 12 for Spain and 1–6 for the rest. At first, Asia and Oceania were represented only by Japan. However, in 2000 the Japanese group of 85 members expanded itself, becoming the Pacific Asia group, composed of 117 members: 75 Japanese, 11 South Koreans, 7 Australian and New Zealand citizens, and 15 members from the ASEAN nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand). The Pacific Asia group also included 9 members from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Currently, the Trilateral Commission claims "more than 100" Pacific Asian members.
While Trilateral Commission bylaws exclude persons holding public office from membership, the think tank draws its participants from political, business, and academic worlds. The group is chaired by three individuals, one from each of the regions represented. The current chairmen are former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Joseph S. Nye, Jr., former head of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet and Yasuchika Hasegawa, chair of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company.
Social critic and academic Noam Chomsky has criticized on the commission as undemocratic, pointing to its publication The Crisis of Democracy, which described the strong popular interest in politics during the 1970s as an "excess of democracy". He continues calling the document, "One of the most interesting and insightful books on topic on the modern democratic system."
Essentially liberal internationalists from Europe, Japan and the United States, the liberal wing of the intellectual elite. That's where Jimmy Carter's whole government came from. [...] [The Trilateral Commission] was concerned with trying to induce what they called "more moderation in democracy"—turn people back to passivity and obedience so they don't put so many constraints on state power and so on. In particular they were worried about young people. They were concerned about the institutions responsible for the indoctrination of the young (that's their phrase), meaning schools, universities, church and so on—they're not doing their job, [the young are] not being sufficiently indoctrinated. They're too free to pursue their own initiatives and concerns and you've got to control them better.
Conspiracy theorists believe the organization to be a central plotter of a world government or synarchy. As documented by journalist Jonathan Kay, Luke Rudkowski interrupted a lecture by former Trilateral Commission director Zbigniew Brzezinski in April 2007 and accused the organization and a few others of having orchestrated the attacks of September 11 to initiate a new world order.
In his 1980 book With No Apologies, Republican Senator Barry Goldwater suggested the discussion group was "a skillful, coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four centers of power: political, monetary, intellectual, and ecclesiastical... [in] the creation of a worldwide economic power superior to the political governments of the nation-states involved." Right-wing groups such as the John Birch Society and right wing conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones also support this idea.
Conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer sardonically alluded to the conspiracy theories when he was asked in 2012 who makes up the "Republican establishment", saying, "Karl Rove is the president. We meet every month on the full moon... [at] the Masonic Temple. We have the ritual: Karl brings the incense, I bring the live lamb and the long knife, and we began... with a pledge of allegiance to the Trilateral Commission."