G7 nations should take lead in putting more pressure on Russia

To force Russia to end its invasion of Ukraine, it is necessary to put even stronger pressure on the country. The Group of Seven nations, including Japan and Germany, must cooperate closely to lead the international community.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Japan for the first time since taking office and held talks with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. At a joint press conference, the two leaders stressed their determination to resolutely deal with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

During the talks, Kishida said Japan “will implement powerful sanctions against Russia and strengthen support for Ukraine.” Scholz said that sanctions have dealt a blow to Russia, while stressing the importance of countries moving in close concert.

G7 summit talks will be held in Germany in June and in Japan next year. It is significant that Japan and Germany, which will chair the next two G7 summits respectively, have closely discussed measures to respond to the crisis in Ukraine.

To date, the G7 nations have imposed strict sanctions against Russia at the initiative of the United States, including in the area of energy.

Unlike the United States and Britain, however, Japan and Germany import large amounts of natural gas and other resources from Russia. If the situation is prolonged, the impact on their economies will become significant. The two countries are also facing soaring crude oil and food prices.

It will be important for Japan and Germany, which face common challenges, to steadily reduce their dependence on Russia for energy, while securing alternative resources to stabilize people’s daily lives. There are likely to be many areas in which the two countries, which boast of advanced technologies, can work together in such areas as efforts toward decarbonization.

Germany has taken steps to provide Ukraine with heavy weapons, but Japan cannot offer similar military assistance. It is hoped that Japan will carefully monitor the situation on the ground and extend assistance such as providing as much defense equipment as possible and support for people who have fled Ukraine.

The two leaders also agreed to work together to realize a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Scholz chose Japan as the first Asian country to which he has made an official visit to show his stance of focusing on freedom, democracy and other universal values.

His predecessor Angela Merkel visited China ahead of Japan on her trips to Asia. While in office, she visited China 12 times. The new German administration is moving to reverse the country’s conciliatory approach toward China, which places priority on economic relations, and strengthen its involvement in the Indo-Pacific region. This could serve as a check on China’s hegemonic maritime expansion.

Last year, Japan and Germany held their first security meeting of foreign and defense ministers, and a German naval warship docked at a Japanese port. Such events have signified progress on the two countries’ cooperation in the security area.

Japan and Germany plan to launch a new intergovernmental consultative scheme that will include the head of each government, and aim for it to hold its first meeting next year. It is hoped that the two countries will deepen their cooperation on a wide range of issues, including economic security and U.N. reform.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 30, 2022)