OSAKA – As host of this year’s Group of 20 leaders’ summit, a key official said Monday that Japan’s most important task will be to chair a gathering that concludes with a strong message promoting stable worldwide economic growth.
The June 28-29 conference is expected to be held amid escalating trade frictions between the United States and China, the following United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union at the end of March.
“The effects of both are starting to be felt in the real economy,” said Koji Tomita, a senior Foreign Ministry official who serves as sherpa for the high-profile event, which is expected to bring to Osaka 37 presidents, prime ministers and heads of international organizations.
Tomita made the remarks at a forum in the city to discuss topics Japan is expected to raise at the summit, as well as how the event, expected to draw 30,000 people, might benefit the city and region.
Other areas of importance for Japan at the G20 summit, Tomita said, include gender issues and aging, as well as climate change and reaffirming the importance of multilateralism for both economic issues and global problems. Reform of the World Trade Organization is also an issue Japan hopes the G20 will address.
“These are areas that one country alone cannot solve,” he said.
Finally, Japan is expected to bring up the subject of technological revolution — and innovation — in relation to addressing many of the problems, as well as the importance of setting rules and standards for the new digital economy.
With less than five months remaining until the summit, Osaka officials are also stepping up local efforts to show support for other specific issues the G20 leaders will discuss, however briefly. One is the problem of plastic waste in the world’s oceans and waterways. Last year, the Japanese government said it would raise the issue with G20 leaders. Since then, local governments around the country have begun reviewing their own policies on plastic use.
Last week, the Osaka Prefectural Government and the Osaka Municipal Government jointly announced they had officially adopted a policy to eventually cut plastic waste to zero. This would be achieved by encouraging the use of nonplastic products and recycling measures among municipal and prefectural residents and businesses, as well as increased efforts toward recycling plastic waste.
“As host of the G20 Summit and as a city that has already met many of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the host of the 2025 World Expo, we in Osaka recognize the importance of taking the initiative to contribute to helping the international community prevent plastic waste from getting into the marine environment,” Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura said in his opening address.
The mayor also hopes the G20 summit will provide a major boost to Osaka’s tourism industry and raise its international profile. Yoshimura said that when he visited Hamburg, he was told that despite problems that occurred during the 2017 G20 Summit there, which included riots, it had been worth hosting the event because it gave the city greater international recognition.