Next administration must also aid unity of U.S., Europe, Japan

The United Kingdom was quick to offer support to Ukraine, which has been invaded by Russia, and has played a role in solidifying the unity of the United States, Europe and Japan. A new U.K. administration is urged to also actively work to maintain the international order.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that he will resign from his post as leader of the ruling Conservative Party. He will also step down as prime minister as soon as the next party leader is elected.

During the period when public health restrictions were imposed as part of measures against novel coronavirus infections, parties involving food and drink were repeatedly held at the prime minister’s residence, and the prime minister himself even attended some of them. Even after the scandals were uncovered, Johnson continued to provide false explanations, resulting in the defection of many Cabinet ministers and ruling party officials.

Having lost the trust of both the public and his inner circle, it is only natural for Johnson to resign. The withdrawal from the European Union, which Johnson has touted as his greatest achievement, resulted in public division and deteriorating relations with the EU and has languished.

On the other hand, Johnson has made his presence felt in the Ukraine crisis. He was the first of the leaders of the Group of Seven advanced economies to visit the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and directly conveyed to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy his plan to provide arms and financial support.

The significance of the visit is immeasurable, as it encouraged the Ukrainian people who have been under fire and promoted G7 unity against Russia. Sanctions against Russia have also been led by the United Kingdom along with the United States.

Johnson’s announcement of greater involvement in the Indo-Pacific region must also be highly commended. Johnson has harshly condemned China’s military expansion and the destruction of democracy in Hong Kong, and last year he dispatched the United Kingdom’s newest aircraft carrier to make port calls in Japan and other countries. The Japan-U.K. relationship has made further progress.

The next U.K. prime minister is urged to maintain such a diplomatic stance.

If Russia and China see the change of U.K. prime ministers as a sign of weakness in the foundation of the leadership of a democratic nation and as an opportunity to shake the solidarity of Japan, the United States and other Western nations, then they are mistaken.

The latest development is proof of the healthy functioning of democratic mechanisms in which peoples and parliaments challenge leaders’ qualities and wrongdoings in politics and replace them.

In Russia, the people are not allowed to raise their voices in criticism even though President Vladimir Putin has continued his aggression in violation of international law, many soldiers have lost their lives and the economy has been weakened by Western sanctions. The will of the people has been silenced, and Putin’s outrageous acts have not been stopped.

The situation is certainly the same in China under President Xi Jinping’s administration, which is pursuing a military expansion program while restricting the lives of its citizens under its zero-COVID policy. In an autocratic system, mechanisms for correcting the mistakes of leaders do not work. Isn’t it obvious that democratic systems are superior to autocratic ones?

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 12, 2022)