If unity among the Group of Seven advanced nations is shaken, they will not be able to appropriately deal with unresolved issues confronting the international community amid a conflict of interests among nations. It is important for the seven nations to act in concert.
A conference of G7 foreign ministers has been held in France, the chair of this year’s summit meeting. The latest gathering is aimed at creating a shared awareness of pressing issues facing each G7 nation in preparation for the summit talks in August.
Last year’s summit meeting arrived at an unusual situation in which U.S. President Donald Trump rejected a joint declaration by G7 leaders, despite the statement having been endorsed among them earlier.
The foreign ministers’ meeting was expected to provide an opportunity for the United States and European nations to mend their relations. But U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a crucial figure, did not attend the conference, with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan acting on his behalf. This is causing widespread speculation that the Trump administration is making light of the G7.
U.S. involvement is indispensable for the G7 to take effective action in promoting international stability and prosperity.
Through a Japan-U.S. summit meeting and on other occasions, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should urge Trump to resolve problems at multilateral talks and act as an intermediary between the United States and European countries.
The focus of a joint statement adopted at the foreign ministers’ conference was China, a nation that is disrupting international order.
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The statement expressed the G7’s “concerns” about China’s excessive investment drive overseas, but it avoided referring to the country’s Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to establish a huge economic bloc under Beijing’s initiative. The influential factor behind this seems to be that Italy has accepted domestic infrastructure development by China, building closer relations with that country.
In reference to the area of cybersecurity, the statement urged China not to be involved in intellectual property theft and other “malicious cyber activities.” There is a growing suspicion that a group of hackers is operating under the Chinese government to steal information possessed by U.S. and European corporations.
There is a difference in the stances taken toward Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. by the United States and European countries over business projects involving the next-generation communications standard, 5G. The United States has urged its allies and others to exclude Huawei products, while European nations remain cautious about uniformly eliminating such products.
If each G7 member deals with China on an individual basis, there still are concerns about the drain of technology. Japan, the United States and European countries should take concerted action in urging China to abide by international standards and end its unlawful conduct.
Meanwhile, the G7 nations agreed they would continue to strictly implement U.N. sanctions on North Korea until its denuclearization is achieved.
The declaration welcomed the United States’ willingness to engage in dialogue with North Korea, while also demanding the North to refrain from provocative acts and continue talks with the United States. The G7 must support efforts to resume negotiations between the two nations.
The statement also said the G7 countries would work to defend themselves from “hostile interference in democratic systems.” What they had in mind was Russia’s suspected meddling in U.S. and European elections. The G7 should continue to show they will not tolerate misconduct.