Kishida’s Pre-G7 Foreign Visits Pay Off with Cooperation on Russia, China Policies

Masanori Genko / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida leaves the U.S. for Japan at Andrews Air Force Base in the suburb of Washington on Saturday afternoon.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has obtained cooperation from the leaders of five of the Group of Seven countries he visited this month on policies toward Russia and China, in preparation for the G7 summit Japan will host in Hiroshima in May.

Kishida completed his visits to Britain, Canada, France, Italy and the United States and returned to Japan on Sunday evening.

The next task is to improve the relationship with South Korea, and Kishida will seek to resolve the issue of lawsuits by former wartime requisitioned workers from the Korean Peninsula.

“I was able to exchange views with the countries’ leaders in various fields, deepen trust with them and yield results that will lead to future developments,” Kishida said at a press conference in Washington on Saturday morning.

The main purpose of these foreign visits at the beginning of the year was to confirm the five countries’ positions prior to the Hiroshima summit in four months’ time. Kishida briefed the leaders of each country on the anticipated agenda for the G7 summit and exchanged views with them. He is also planning to meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz before the summit, as they did not meet this time.

At the May summit, Kishida will place particular emphasis on the unity of the G7 in order to uphold the international order based on the rule of law. At the press conference, he explained, “The biggest issue [in the meetings with the leaders] was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” He also called it “a challenge to the principles of the international community as a whole,” and agreed with his counterparts that continuing sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine was necessary.

In order to maintain and strengthen the international order, the promotion of a free and open Indo-Pacific will be on the agenda at the May summit. With China’s increasing maritime expansion in mind, Kishida said at the press conference, “We must hold dialogue [with China] while demanding responsible behavior from it.”

Meanwhile, the focus will also be on improving Japan-South Korea relations. The South Korean government has announced a proposal to solve the issue of the lawsuits by former wartime requisitioned workers, in which a foundation under the South Korean government will shoulder compensation that the defendant Japanese companies have been ordered to pay by the South Korean Supreme Court.

“The diplomatic authorities and other authorities [in Japan and South Korea] are making efforts now. I hope that these efforts will continue,” Kishida said at the press conference, expressing hope that South Korea will seek an early resolution. While keeping a close eye on Seoul’s response, Kishida is considering inviting South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to the summit.