Kishida Champions Ties To Global South During Grueling Global Tour; He Meets With Brazil’s Lula In Person

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is welcomed by children of Japanese descent in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Saturday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized the importance of strengthening cooperation with the emerging and developing nations of the Global South during his visits to France, Brazil and Paraguay that started on May 1. With an eye toward competing against China, he aims to shore up Japanese influence so that the international order can be maintained. The trip was a grueling journey around the globe, 54 hours of which were spent in transit alone.

“The past few days have been extremely fulflling for me. Going forward I’ll continue to devote my full efforts to diplomatic leadership aimed at fostering the sort of cooperative international society that I know Japan can promote,” Kishida stressed in a press conference held in Sao Paulo on Saturday night. This latest trip was particularly focused on relations with the Global South.

During his speech at an OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in Paris, Kishida stressed that “strengthening cooperation with these increasingly important regions is the future that the OECD should pursue,” referring to countries in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Furthermore, he announced the creation of an international framework for generative artificial intelligence, involving 49 countries and regions, and called for cooperation among “countries with a common vision.”

In his meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has been critical of the Group of Seven industrialized nations, Kishida carefully explained the issues that Japan considers important, such as the rule of law and adherence to international law. Subsequently, the two leaders released a joint statement incorporating these items. Kishida’s decision to visit Brazil was made with the intention of drawing closer to that country, which is a major nation in the Global South and will host this November’s G20 summit, in which China and Russia will also participate.

The two leaders held a joint press conference in which Lula displayed a pragmatic attitude — for instance, asking Japan to import Brazilian beef. However, those close to Kishida said, “It was very significant that he traveled all the way to the other side of the world to meet [Lula] in person.”

“We’ll expand our network of solidarity and cooperate with others in a uniquely Japanese way. The visit meant a lot for our partnerships with the Global South,” Kishida reflected at a press conference.