WASHINGTON – The eyes of the world will be on Japan again when the Group of 20 summit kicks off in Osaka next week. As host, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will greet the leaders of the world’s 20 most powerful countries and use the opportunity to showcase Japan as an island of geopolitical stability. The timing of the summit, just weeks before the Upper House election, amid swirling U.S.-China and Middle East tensions, offers Abe the chance to play the role of senior global statesmen. However, in true Japanese fashion, it’s unlikely Abe will try to hog too much of the spotlight. While he has talked about setting the agenda for a post-Osaka G20 world based on “human-centeredness” and “data free flow with trust,” the summit will likely produce multiple communiques where three important meetings there will set the tone and probably focus much of the world’s attention.
The meeting now set between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will be the prime-time event of the G20. Nuance and speculation will follow on every aspect of the interaction including whether it’s a formal or informal bilateral summit or discussion to resolve the ongoing trade dispute or not. In addition to the actual bilateral meeting, informal encounters before and after facilitated by Abe will go a long way in showcasing his relations between both leaders and countries. While Abe will have little ability to shape the broader context for the meeting, its outcome will directly affect Japan.
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