Kishida strives for G7 unity on N. Korea, Russia

Courtesy of Cabinet Public Affairs Office
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida greets G7 leaders in Brussels on Thursday.

At last week’s Group of Seven meeting in Belgium, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, leader of the only G7 nation in Asia, made an effort to confirm the cooperation of the international community in dealing with North Korea, which has conducted a series of missile tests recently.

G7 leaders also agreed to strengthen sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

“It was a very meaningful meeting that confirmed the strong determination to never tolerate Russian aggression, and for the G7 to take the lead in defending the international order,” Kishida said to reporters in Brussels on Thursday.

At the G7 meeting, the prime minister expressed his determination not to flinch following Russia’s declaration to suspend peace treaty talks and to continue taking decisive action. Kishida announced additional sanctions, including an export ban on luxury goods to Russia that will soon begin.

He also pledged to extend additional financial assistance totaling $100 million (about ¥12 billion) to Ukraine and neighboring countries, and humanitarian contributions in the medical field and other areas.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, with whom Kishida held separate talks, expressed his gratitude, saying he highly appreciated Japan’s contributions.

According to a Japanese government official, the United States proposed holding G7 talks in conjunction with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit.

When G7 chair Germany approached Japan about attending the emergency meeting, Kishida was “surprised,” according to a close aide, but he decided immediately to take part despite the demanding three-day schedule.

Kishida was determined to get the G7 leaders to also pay attention to Asia, briefing them on the results of his recent visit to India, which has close ties with Russia. In separate talks with U.S. President Joe Biden and other leaders, Kishida confirmed cooperation in dealing with North Korea, which launched a ballistic missile just before the G7 meeting.

Kishida also stressed that countries should not support Russia or help them dodge sanctions, with China in mind, a country that might help Moscow.

“We want to lead international efforts against Russian aggression,” Kishida said after the series of meetings.

However, uncertainty remains over the extent to which countries will align over China, which will be essential to the effectiveness of sanctions against Russia.