Former President Barack Obama plans to dedicate his work post-presidency to helping to develop the next generation of leaders. “If I could do that effectively, then – you know – I would create a hundred or a thousand or a million young Barack Obamas or Michelle Obamas,” he said. “Or, the next group of people who could take that baton in that relay race that is human progress,” he added.
Obama was speaking at the Fourth Global Opinion Leaders Summit in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday.
The President also addressed the tens of thousands of protesters that participated in the March For Our Lives march for gun safety in Washington D.C. and other cities around the world, the previous day.
“This was all because of the courage and effort of a handful of 15- and 16-year-olds, who took the responsibility that so often adults had failed to take in trying to find a solution to this problem, and I think that’s a testimony to what happens when young people are given opportunities, and I think all institutions have to think about how do we tap into that creativity and that energy and that drive,” he said.
“Because it’s there. It’s just so often we say: ‘Wait your turn.’”
One of the main issue the President says he will be devoting his time to, now that he’s out of office, is the extreme media polarization that exists in the U.S. Obama believes it is to the detriment of politics in the nation.
“One of the things we’re going to be spending time on, through the [Obama] foundation, is finding ways in which we can study this phenomenon of social media and the internet to see are there ways in which we can bring people from different perspectives to start having a more civil debate and listen to each other more carefully,” he said.
The President also discussed climate change and his hopes that the international community comes together to find a global solution that addresses both environmental and economic concerns. “My hope is that building on the Paris Accords, all countries start recognizing that if we join forces then there’s no reason we have to sacrifice economic development,” he said.
Obama also commented on North Korea and the difficulty the U.S. and its allies have had in curbing the regime’s aggression. “North Korea is an example of a country that is so far out of the international norms and so disconnected with the rest of the world,” he told the audience. “That makes them less subject to these kinds of negotiations,” he said, speaking of the deal several U.S. allies struck with Iran to halt the country’s nuclear program.
Obama was in Japan at the invitation of a Japanese non-profit group that organized the Summit. Prior stops on his week-long trip to Asia included Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.