(Mainichi: December 3, 2015 – p. 2)
By Yohei Maeda
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has completed his diplomatic schedule, which included participation in COP21 in Paris, and returned home on a government plane on Dec. 2. He met with more than 30 leaders on the sidelines of COP21, making Japan’s presence felt as host of the G7 Ise-Shima Summit next year. Cooperation on counterterrorism had emerged as a major issue during his tour in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, but he was not able to achieve any significant results in this regard.
This was the first participation in a COP meeting by a Japanese prime minister since former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama attended a session in 2009. Abe met with French President Francois Hollande on Nov. 30. He told Hollande: “We are terribly shocked and enraged by the terrorist attacks. We will work with the international community in actively taking counterterrorism measures. “
However, anti-terrorism unity is at risk of being disrupted after Turkey shot down Russian aircraft. In a brief conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Abe suggested: “If there is anything I can do, I will convey the message to President Putin.” He attempted to mediate, since “both Putin and Erdogan are good friends” (according to an aide), but he was not able to get in touch with Putin.
Meanwhile, Abe talked to the leaders of Asian and African countries, as well as the Pacific island states to promote UN Security Council reform and East Asian diplomacy. He announced additional aid for the developing countries’ global warming prevention efforts in his speech to COP21. According to a source traveling with him, there was a queue of officials who wanted to greet Abe after the speech. In his chat with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Xi remarked that “there are signs that bilateral relations are changing,” indicating a positive attitude on stepping up the improvement of bilateral ties.
The question now is how well Japan will be able to exercise leadership from now on with regard to such issues as terrorism, refugees, and global warming as the host country of the next G7 Summit. At a joint news conference with Luxemburg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel on Dec. 1, Abe stated: “Both global warming and terrorism are serious issues the world is facing. Japan must exercise leadership as the next G7 Summit host.”