G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting: Leaders’ Ability to Implement Crises-Aversion Measures Is Tested

Hatred and division are spreading throughout the international community. It is crucial for the Group of Seven advanced nations to unite and adopt effective actions to restore order.

G7 foreign ministers met in Tokyo to discuss various topics, including the Israeli-Palestinian situation, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and China’s increasingly hegemonic actions.

A month has passed since military conflict began between the Islamist group Hamas and Israel. More than 10,000 people have died in the Palestinian territory of Gaza, including civilians. The situation must be calmed on an urgent basis.

The joint statement released after the foreign ministers’ meeting emphasized the importance of the “rule of law” and clearly stated an intolerance for “any unilateral attempts to change the peacefully established status of territories by force or coercion anywhere in the world.”

As Russia’s aggression against Ukraine becomes more protracted, the surplus strength of the West, which has been militarily supporting Ukraine, has been declining. Furthermore, if the West’s attention is further diverted by the situation in the Middle East, it could diminish the capabilities to respond to China, which is continuing its aggressive maritime expansion in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

The United States remains the world’s foremost military power, but it will be difficult for Washington to deal with the “three fronts” of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

For Japan, conflicts in Europe and the Middle East are not “someone else’s problem.” Tokyo must act proactively to ensure stability in Asia.

The joint statement also underlined the need for “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas.

Even though Japan, the United States and Europe have called for such pauses, Israel has not stopped its airstrikes while Hamas has countered by taking a large number of hostages.

Perfunctory calls for breaks in the violence will not improve the situation.

One effective way to make it difficult for Israel and Hamas to continue fighting would be to cease the supply of weapons and ammunition. The United States, Europe and Arab countries should consider concrete measures to avert the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

If the Middle East situation becomes even more chaotic, it is likely that crude oil prices will rise further. It is hoped that Japan — which depends on the Middle East for 90% of its crude oil imports — will leverage its amicable relations with both the Israeli and Palestinian sides to tenaciously urge them to avoid deepening the crisis.

Japan is set to relinquish the G7 chair in less than two months, while its status as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council will continue into 2024.

With the Security Council becoming increasingly dysfunctional due to tensions between the United States and Europe on one side, and China and Russia on the other, it is vital to make effective use of the U.N. General Assembly. Tokyo must lead discussions aimed at restoring peace and security to the international community.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 9, 2023)