Monday’s Nikkei led with an interview with Prime Minister Abe on Saturday, in which he said the G7 must take the initiative in dealing with issues of pressing concern, including combating terrorism and ISIL, peace in the Middle East, and global warming. He dismissed the idea of the “G2”- China and the U.S. – taking a global leadership role by saying: “This is a very outdated approach.” He stressed that Russia’s “constructive involvement” is important to defeat ISIL, bring the civil war in Syria under control, and defuse the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, expressing hope to visit Russia ahead of the G7 Ise-Shima summit in late May. The premier also called for the enhanced unity of the international community to dissuade China from pursuing maritime advancement in the South China Sea and North Korea from conducting nuclear and missile development. Abe mentioned the comfort women accord with South Korea by saying: “I have a relationship of trust with President Park. This made the agreement possible.” He reportedly emphasized repeatedly that this history dispute has been settled “finally and irreversibly.”
In an accompanying piece, Nikkei wrote that despite Abe’s statements, the G7 may not be able to play a key role in dealing with global problems because of internal discord, since the U.S. and the Europeans are sometimes at odds with each other in their approaches toward China and Russia, as evidenced by EU members’ decision to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The daily attributed the internal G7 discord to a decline in U.S. diplomatic presence.