Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, University of Tokyo.
The days of trial and error to get out of the COVID-19 restrictions continue as the ebb and flow of the cases of infections persists all around the world. Major and global powers chase each other and making alliances competing each other, in the race for normalcy.
What kind of life we would have after the international travel and traffic restrictions lifted and air and sea transportations fully resumed?
Does the globalization which was at the height of progress, like a juggernaut stamping everything under its foot, return back and start progressing again?
I hope many people have rediscovered every little thing around them which were precious but long forgotten hidden by the hype toward the race to the global economic competition. During the confined days of video-conferencing and webinars, we had better to recognize the importance of the nameless essential workers who maintain infrastructure and provide basic needs for us. They were too much taken for granted and assumed expendables purchased from the global market. We might better simply be reminded of the sense of gratitude to all those people and things which have been enabling us to lead a decent life.
Still, globalization would certainly go on even though pandemic will continue to hit hard on the weakest part of societies. Looking back to the history, at least a two whole years was needed for human beings to tame the novel virus and mitigate the impact to society. We will certainly live under partial lockdowns and closedowns of some degrees, probably till the end of the winter of 2021-2022.
Then, what happens?
In the transitional period to normalcy, we may see some kind of confusion caused by the global rivalry among superpowers and emerging powers, each try to take advantage of this uncertain period in their favor, particularly by exerting efforts to prevail in “vaccine diplomacy.”
Each great power may try to dominate weaker states by providing vaccines and forming trade blocs in which nations inoculated with the same vaccines participate exclusive economic activities under the great powers which produced and provided precious and effective vaccines.
Even such an effort to compete with each other by the great and super powers in the transitional period, globalization will eventually dominate and people resume to go across the boundaries.
After the state of normalcy prevails again, and I sincerely want it does, the sense of humility we felt during the COVID-19 age should not be lost.