TOKYO, Japan—The leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) will meet this week in Hiroshima, Japan, in a show of strength and unity to promote “the rule-based international order” in the face of escalating Russian and Chinese aggression.
The summit, which will take place May 19–21, will be the 49th annual summit of the largest advanced democracies—the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Canada.
President Joe Biden plans to attend the summit, even though he is in the midst of tough debt ceiling talks with congressional leaders. The president’s travel has been shortened, according to the White House, so that he can return to Washington earlier than planned to continue negotiations. Biden has postponed his post-summit visits to Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Even though the G7 summits don’t usually make headlines, this year’s gathering is perceived as significant because of the message it is likely to send to Russia and China.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida chose Hiroshima as the G7 venue as a symbolic opportunity to call for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.
This year’s summit is expected to highlight Hiroshima’s history as the site of the world’s deadliest military operation and attempt to send a “strong message” to the rest of the world, particularly Russia, about the dangers of nuclear weapons.
On the Agenda
The war in Ukraine and the fight against global inflation are set to dominate the agenda at this year’s meeting, according to Matthew Goodman, senior vice president for economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
“Right now, there’s a particular focus on food and energy security, and issues around developing country debt,” Goodman said during a press briefing by CSIS to preview the leaders’ summit.
The meeting is also likely to be a major test for Japan’s global influence.
“Japan is putting a particular accent on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, both because the summit is hosted in Hiroshima, the prime minister’s hometown, and also because Russia has …. implied that it might be willing to use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” Goodman explained.
According to the CSIS, the G7 has found a new common goal in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and growing Chinese aggression. This year, Japan hopes to unite leading democracies to counter Russia and China’s efforts to undermine the existing rules-based order and spread their influence in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
“The G7 will continue to strongly promote sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine,” the Japanese government said in a statement summarizing the summit’s agenda. In addition, the leaders “will reaffirm and strengthen cooperation on the ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific.’”
An important focus of this year’s summit is “Outreach to the Global South,” which intends to increase outreach to Latin America, Africa, the rest of Asia, and the Pacific to counter China’s and Russia’s growing influence in these regions.
To that end, a record number of leaders have been invited to this year’s summit: Australia, the Republic of Korea, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Comoros (representing the African Union), and the Cook Islands (representing the Pacific Island Forum) will join the meetings in Hiroshima.
Climate remains a primary focus, but G7 leaders are also wrestling with their countries’ energy needs in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions.
“While the importance of ensuring energy security is reaffirmed in the face of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the goal to achieve net-zero by 2050 based on the Paris Agreement remains unchanged,” the G7 statement said.
When Germany hosted the G7 summit a year ago, addressing the climate crisis was a very big priority. Japan, on the other hand, has given this issue a little less priority, according to Goodman.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is also set to play a prominent role at this year’s G7 summit, as world leaders are astounded by the technology’s rapid progress and potential risks.
Other key subjects to be discussed during the meetings include the development of resilient supply chains as well as addressing non-market policies and economic coercion. Leaders are also anticipated to express worry about opaque development financing projects in poor countries, such as communist China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
This year, the G7 club has two new leaders. This will be the first summit for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, both of whom assumed office in October of last year.
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