Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi hosted the second Quad foreign ministerial meeting on Oct. 6. "Quad," which is short for the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, is an informal strategic forum of democracies that includes the United States, Japan, Australia, and India, and whose purpose is to discuss Indo-Pacific regional security issues.

To an old timer diplomat like me, however, the “Quad” was the United States, Japan, the European Union and Canada, a group of major trading partners in the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the 1990s. Unfortunately, the old Quad has lost its influence and become almost irrelevant since China joined the WTO in 2001.

Several foreign journalists in Tokyo have asked me about the significance of the present-day gathering in Tokyo. My answer was simple. It is very symbolic and meaningful given that three foreign ministers flew all the way from Washington, Canberra and New Delhi — despite the deadly pandemic and U.S. President Donald Trump's hospitalization due to COVID-19 — to attend the event.