Both Nations must Fulfill Responsibilities to Achieve Stability in Asia

The summit of the Group of Seven advanced nations, a gathering of the core of the democratic world camp, has opened in the city of Hiroshima. Separate bilateral meetings between Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the leaders of the participating countries have also begun on the sidelines. It is vital to strengthen solidarity toward restoration of international order.

During talks with U.S. President Joe Biden, Kishida confirmed cooperation on promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific and strengthening supply chains for semiconductors and other critical materials.

It was the first meeting between the two leaders since January this year. It holds great significance that they take advantage of every opportunity to ensure that they are on the same page.

In the meeting, Kishida said, “The Japan-U.S. alliance is the very foundation of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific … At the summit, I am confident that the G7 will demonstrate our unwavering will to uphold free and open international order based on the rule of law.” In response, Biden said, “I’m proud that the United States and Japan are facing [one of the most complex security environments in recent history] together.”

It can certainly be said that one thing the two leaders have in common is a sense of wariness over China’s hegemonic activities.

Chinese government vessels have repeatedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands. There is no doubt that Beijing is claiming the islands and surrounding areas as Chinese territory and territorial waters in an attempt to make the intrusions a fait accompli. The Chinese military continues to carry out intimidating activities around Taiwan.

Many Japanese, U.S. and European companies have production bases in China. There have been an increasing number of cases in which the Chinese government has detained employees working at the companies without revealing concrete charges against them. It should be obvious that relying on China for the supply of various products and parts presents inherent risks.

As long as China continues its self-righteous behavior, it remains important for Japan and the United States to work together to address various issues.

The Japan-U.S. alliance must be deepened to maintain global order on the high seas. From the perspective of economic security, it is also essential to build a system for securing critical materials.

Some countries in Europe still wish to avoid disrupting their relations with China. Regarding the Taiwan situation, French President Emmanuel Macron said last month, “The worst thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the U.S. rhythm.”

If G7 solidarity is seen in disarray, China will step in and take advantage of such a situation. As the chair of this G7 summit, Kishida should make the other participating nations aware of how China is threatening regional stability, and take the initiative in restoring solid unity.

Biden was initially scheduled to visit Papua New Guinea and Australia after the G7 summit, but canceled the trips to both countries because of the failure to reach a deal with Congress on the debt ceiling, which sets limits on U.S. government debt.

It is problematic that the United States, which is the leader of the West, cannot provide leadership due to conflict over a domestic issue. Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party should wake up to the responsibilities of being a major power.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 19, 2023)