Yuichi Hosoya on Japan’s G7 Summit

“The G-7 has exemplified Japan’s identity as a liberal democracy as well as serving as a valuable tool to sustain the economic growth of the global economy.”

Yuichi Hosoya on Japan’s G7 Summit
Credit: Prime Minister’s Office of Japan

For 2023, Japan holds the rotating presidency of the G-7 grouping (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States). The highlight of Japan’s presidency was the G-7 leaders’ summit held in Hiroshima, Japan – Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s hometown – from May 19 to 21. The summit was the culmination of months of diplomatic efforts by Tokyo, from Kishida’s tour of fellow member states in January 2023 to (less intuitively) his trip to four African countries in late April and early May.

While much of the headlines were stolen by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s surprise in-person appearance – and his impassioned pleas for support from attending leaders – Japan has a number of priorities on the line, from coordinating a response to challenges posed by China’s rise to building bridges with the Global South. Below, Yuichi Hosoya, a professor of International Politics at Keio University and the director of research at the Asia Pacific Initiative, discusses Japan’s G-7 goals and the outcomes.

Ukraine’s President Volodmyr Zelenskyy received an invitation to attend the summit as a guest, but he was not the only leader to receive a special invite. What calculations went into Japan’s selection of guest invitations?

Japan believes the link between the G-7 and the Global South is essential, as the influence of the G-7 has been diminished in the last three decades. It seems that the stronger solidarity of the international community with Ukraine was one of the key themes at the Hiroshima G-7 Summit.

Some experts have proposed expanding the G-7 to include other democracies like Australia, India, and South Korea (all of whom received special invitations to attend the Hiroshima summit). What’s Japan’s stance on the possibility of G-7 expansion?

The inclusion of Russia to the G-7 in 1997 was a failure in a sense that it could not socialize Russia to be a like-minded partner afterwards. It seems that Japan’s government values the smaller grouping such as the G-7 as intimate atmosphere is required to create a single voice in important policy issues. 

However, I do not assume that Japan’s government intends to reject every sorts of G-7 expansion. The South Korean proposal for the “G-8” can perhaps bring a closer Japan-South Korea relationship.