By Keita Ikeda in Quebec City, Canada
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe worked very hard to maintain the G7’s unity on the North Korea issues at the G7 Charlevoix Summit. It is believed that he was apprehensive that the “encirclement of North Korea” might be shaken with the G7 in conflict over the U.S.’s protectionist policies.
In his opening remarks made at the request of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the third session of the summit focused on foreign policy and security issues on the evening of June 8, Abe stated: “Donald (U.S. President Donald Trump) will be going to one of the most important meetings of this century. The G7 should unite in its endorsement of Donald’s negotiating stance.” He asked the other G7 nations’ support for the success of the U.S.-DRPK summit and obtained their approval. He further stressed that, “The goal is the complete, verifiable, and irreversible elimination of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles,” arguing against imprudent lifting of sanctions on North Korea.
According to Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura, who accompanied Abe, Japan took the lead in the discussions on North Korea. Abe was bombarded with questions – such as “what rewards does North Korea seek (for denuclearization)” or “what is China’s role” — from the other leaders at one point.
The focus of attention at this summit was on the conflict between the U.S., which has invoked additional tariffs on steel and aluminum products, and the other nations. Japan, which is making utmost efforts to resolve not only North Korea’s nuclear issue but also the abduction issue, wanted to avoid a situation in which Trump would be completely isolated ahead of the first U.S.-DPRK summit in history taking place on June 12. Japanese government officials are relieved that the G7 was able to show unity on North Korea policy.