G7 nations must join hands to revive multilateral cooperation

The leading democracies that share common values must unite to revitalize these summits. The effectiveness of multilateral cooperation must be demonstrated.

The Group of Seven summit has begun in Cornwall in southwest England. This is the first time in two years that a G7 summit has been held in person.

In recent years, G7 summits had been dysfunctional, as they were at the mercy of then U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy. U.S. President Joe Biden, who took office this year, has emphasized the importance of international cooperation and alliances, stressing the need to “bring together the world’s democracies.”

It is essential for the United States to be an active player in world affairs, bolstering the impression the U.S.-Japan-Europe cooperative system has been revived.

The biggest focus of the summit is whether the G7 can provide a concrete road map for dealing with the challenges to the international order posed by China, Russia and other such authoritarian nations.

It is important to send a strong message in the G7 summit communique that changing the status quo by force will not be allowed.

For Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is participating in a G7 summit for the first time, his challenge is to strengthen cooperation to realize a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” Britain, France and Germany are already moving ahead with plans to dispatch aircraft carriers and other warships to Asia, which will certainly be an effective check on China.

China has been stepping up its military activities around Taiwan. It is important for the G7 to urge China to refrain from unilateral actions so that Beijing will not make the mistake of thinking that it can use force to realize its unification with Taiwan.

The G7 must also express its serious concerns about China oppressing human rights in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, urging Beijing to improve the situation.

China is trying to strengthen its economic ties with developing countries through its Belt and Road Initiative for an expansive economic zone, to block criticism of its human rights issues. The G7 should also take the lead in supporting developing countries in fields such as infrastructure development.

It is essential to make efforts to reduce dependence on China in the supply chain for important goods such as semiconductors and rare earths. With Australia, India, South Africa and South Korea invited to the G7 summit, a stable framework composed of democratic nations is desired.

The summit finalized the decision to provide 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses mainly to developing countries by the end of next year to combat the novel coronavirus. China and Russia are expanding their influence by providing their domestically developed COVID-19 vaccines to other countries, so it is significant that the G7 is actively offering support.

With regard to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, Suga announced that Japan “will implement all possible measures to prevent infection and proceed with preparations,” and his G7 counterparts voiced support for holding the Tokyo Games. For the Games to be successful, Japan will need the cooperation of countries from around the world.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on June 13, 2021.