Under Japan’s presidency, the G7 will defend the rule of law

The writer is prime minister of Japan

When I visited Ukraine in March and met President Zelenskyy, I expressed to him my commitment to maintaining the unwavering unity of the G7 for strict sanctions against Russia and our robust support for his country. At my invitation, he will participate in discussions at the G7 summit in Hiroshima this weekend.

Japan has pledged $7.6bn in assistance for Ukraine. Some people might wonder why a geographically distant country is so committed. This is because Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is not only a matter of European security, but also a challenge to the free and open international order based on the rule of law. Today’s Ukraine may be tomorrow’s east Asia. We are determined to uphold the rule of law, firmly rejecting the rule of force.

The world faces a complex set of crises today, including climate change, the pandemic and geopolitical crises. At the G7 summit, I and my counterparts will discuss regional situations such as Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific, including east Asia, notably China and North Korea. We will also discuss the global economy, including food and energy security; economic resilience and economic security; nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; digital technologies; and global issues such as climate change, health and development.

As a holder of the G7 presidency, Japan would like to take the lead in responding to these multiple crises. While each member’s interests may vary in addressing these challenges, the G7 is determined to respond in a united manner to any challenge to the existing international order based on the rule of law that we depend on, wherever it occurs. This unwavering determination is the most important message of this G7 Hiroshima Summit.

The Indo-Pacific region is expected to be the centre of gravity for the international community in the future, with the promise of the most dynamic economic growth and innovation. That said, it also faces emerging challenges that affect the international community as a whole, including unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, non-market practices and economic coercion, as well as the issue of how economic growth can be compatible with climate change.

In March this year, the UK announced the Integrated Review Refresh of its security, defence, development and foreign policies, and its accession negotiations on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership reached substantial conclusion. By demonstrating its commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, the UK shows that it fully recognises that peace and prosperity there are in its own interests. This permanent engagement with this region is strategically and geopolitically astute. It is encouraging that the UK is looking decades into the future and making its investments from a long-term perspective.

This is not merely in terms of securing its economic interests such as trade, or safeguarding supply chains for semiconductors and critical resources. International co-operation on global issues, which support the national interests of the UK and Europe as a whole, require efforts that transcend regional boundaries.

At the same time, addressing the challenges that the world is facing today requires the efforts of the entire international community, including the so-called Global South. As the G7, we would like to strengthen our outreach. That is why I recently visited Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique, and have invited Australia, Brazil, Comoros, the Cook Islands, India, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, and Vietnam to the Hiroshima Summit for discussions.

Whether it is about the situation in Ukraine or climate change, it is important to let the so-called Global South decide to deepen co-operation with the G7 by choice, not by imposition, if we are to gain ­co-operation from the entire international community. The key is that the international community, including the G7, firmly responds with unity to situations like Ukraine wherever they occur. Moreover, it is also important that the G7 shows solidarity with, and helps to shoulder the burden of, vulnerable countries.

From this perspective, I presented a new plan for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific when I visited India in March. I announced support for the growth and economic resilience of the Indo-Pacific countries through establishing a free and fair economic order, strengthening connectivity, including through infrastructure development, and ensuring maritime peace and stability. Through dialogue with other countries, we hope to lead the international community away from fragmentation and towards co-operation.

The G7 Summit that is to be held in Hiroshima has special significance. For 77 years since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, humanity has not used nuclear weapons. We must never neglect this historic achievement.

Nuclear weapons must never be used again, and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, including threats of nuclear weapons such as those made by Russia, is never acceptable. There is no better place than Hiroshima to send the message of moving towards “a world without nuclear weapons”. I look forward to deepening discussions with the G7 leaders to promote realistic and practical efforts in this regard.

It is critical that the G7 takes the initiative when the world faces a complex set of crises. Japan is determined to exercise leadership while it holds the G7 Presidency, and co-operation from each member of the G7 is indispensable.

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