Leaders of the Group of Seven major industrial nations have expressed their support for Japan’s continued push to hold the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer in defiance of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We support the commitment of Japan” to hold the Tokyo Games “in a safe and secure manner this summer as a symbol of global unity in overcoming COVID-19,” the leaders said in a joint statement adopted at their videoconference the same day.
At the online G-7 summit, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated that Japan aims to hold the international sporting events as a testament that humanity has conquered the virus.
“I obtained support from all of my G-7 colleagues” for staging the games, Suga told reporters after the summit.
The Tokyo Games were postponed by one year from 2020 due to the global spread of COVID-19.
The leaders of Japan, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States stressed that they will accelerate the development of coronavirus vaccines, increase vaccine manufacturing capacity and ensure “affordable and equitable access” to vaccines, in cooperation with the World Health Organization and related industries.
Suga once again explained Japan’s plan to contribute $200 million to an international framework for supporting the supply of vaccines to developing countries, saying that it is important to make sure fair access to vaccines, including for developing nations.
The G7 leaders said that they will work together to make 2021 “a turning point for multilateralism,” vowing to lead the international efforts to rebuild the economy and society damaged by the pandemic.
The joint statement also showed the leaders’ eagerness to deliver “a green transformation and clean energy transitions” on a path to net zero emissions no later than 2050 in accordance with the Paris Agreement, a global framework for the fight against climate change.
The United States, one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, withdrew from the Paris Agreement under the administration of former President Donald Trump. But the country has decided to return to the pact under current President Joe Biden, who was sworn in last month.
The statement said G7 nations will cooperate on a “rules-based multilateral trading system.”
The latest G7 message comes in the wake of Trump’s tumultuous time in office, where he pushed an “America First” agenda that saw the superpower often clashing with other G7 members over free trade and measures to fight global warming.
Apparently with China in mind, the G7 leaders said that their countries will consult with each other on “collective approaches” to address “non-market-oriented policies and practices,” and cooperate with other nations to deal with “important global issues that impact all countries.”
Japan’s Foreign Ministry said Suga voiced concerns over China’s “attempts to change the status quo” in the East and South China seas during the 90-minute summit, but retracted its earlier announcement that the prime minister had criticized Beijing’s “market-distorting subsidies” and breaches of intellectual property rights.
This was the first videoconference among G7 leaders since April last year. Suga, who took office last September, Biden and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who assumed the post this month, all took part for the first time.
Britain, this year’s G7 chair, proposed the online summit, in the lead-up to a planned in-person meeting among the leaders of the seven countries, to rebuild unity among the G7 nations that had weakened during the Trump era. The summit was also convened to help enable the countries to lead the work to shape international order after the coronavirus pandemic dies down.
The face-to-face G7 summit is slated to be held in Cornwall, in southwestern England, in June. Britain has invited Australia, India and South Korea to attend as guests.
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