National / Politics

Japan calls G7 'important framework' after Trump urges expansion

Kyodo

The Group of Seven industrialized nations is an “important framework” for coordination in tackling global challenges, the top Japanese government spokesman said Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump called it “very outdated” and advocated expansion.

Trump said Saturday he wants to invite Australia, South Korea, Russia and India to this year’s G7 summit, which has been postponed until the fall, in addition to the existing members including Japan.

“The G7 will continue to be an important framework allowing the participating major countries to jointly tackle global issues and confirm cooperation and coordination,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference.

This year, the United States has the rotating presidency of the G7 that also includes the U.K., Canada, France, Germany, and Italy.

The expanded G7 is seen as an attempt by the United States to form a joint front against China since Trump has stepped up criticism of the Asian powerhouse over a range of issues from the coronavirus pandemic to Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Russia, which was a member of the Group of Eight, was dropped from the framework following international outcry over its annexation of Crimea in 2014. Trump has been calling for Russia to be allowed back in, while other members remain cautious.

“There is no change in our stance that we do not acknowledge Russia’s annexation of Crimea in light of the integrity of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territory,” Suga said.

Japan and Russia have a territorial dispute that has prevented them from signing a postwar peace treaty, and negotiations on solving the issue are deadlocked.

Although a date has yet to be set for the summit, the Japanese government plans to make arrangements for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to attend, the spokesman said.

As for China, Japan has been treading carefully and hoping for further improvement in its relations with Beijing. Bilateral ties had been strained due to a territorial dispute and differing views of wartime history.

Beijing’s recent decision to impose a national security law on Hong Kong has raised fears that political activity will be suppressed and freedom will be curbed in the former British colony, leading to local protests and international criticism.

Suga has said Japan is “seriously concerned” about the Chinese push on the legislation but that it will continue to communicate with Beijing over a state visit to Japan by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The visit was postponed from this spring due to the pandemic.

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