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The world needs Japan to rally the G-7 against nuclear weapons

Amid Ukraine war, summit in Hiroshima presents opportunity to show leadership

Nikkei ASia, Nancy Snow, March 22, 2023 

Nancy Snow is distinguished visiting professor of strategic communications at Schwarzman College of Tsinghua University and principal of Global Persuasion Strategies. She is the author of “The Mystery of Japan’s Information Power.”

The world that has greeted Japan’s return to the presidency of the Group of Seven in 2023 is very different from that of seven years ago when Tokyo had its last turn at the helm.

……………………………………………….. As the only Asian member of the G-7, Japan’s hosting may make little difference if it strictly hits repeat on platitudes like the benefits of a free and open Indo-Pacific region without painting a picture of the costs of alternative outcomes. The public needs vivid reminders that authoritarian reach across all regions is on the rise.

Strategic ambiguity and the deliberate use of vague language may have its place but does not suit the context of this year’s G-7 leader’s summit being held in Hiroshima, which along with Nagasaki are the only cities to have ever come under nuclear attack.

This year, Japan must lead the G-7, which represents over half of the world’s net wealth, in easing global fears about mutual assured destruction.

Kishida is already walking a fine line as he balances advocating the abolition of nuclear weapons and pushing for big increases in Japan’s defense spending. A pacifist image of Japan was easier to maintain before Russia’s invasion, before North Korea’s record year of ballistic missile tests and before five Chinese ballistic missiles landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone last August.

Kishida’s administration should take note that while polls show the Japanese public is strongly in favor of supporting Ukraine’s resistance, it is equally emphatic about not sending lethal arms.

When Kishida talks about aiding Ukraine’s rebuilding with help for demining, agriculture and education, as he did during a G-7 virtual summit in February, he is safely in Japan’s wheelhouse and supporting the Japanese people’s helpmate self-image.

This year’s G-7 summit will still be heavy on the global economy which has taken hits in terms of food, health care, energy and climate change.

Japan remains the world’s third-largest economy, but chronic worries remain about taxation and inflation, stagnant wages, child rearing and elder care assistance. Leading the world in assistance to Ukraine may be Kishida’s vision but not an everyday goal of his constituents.

Global expectations for Japan have risen since the Abe years, not only due to Japan’s increased emphasis on defense and security but also its prioritization of global governance. It is also a country that takes pride in intergovernmental values as espoused in the U.N. Charter.

Where Japan continues to lag is in showing up and representing those values in person, a shortfall which has impacted its leadership at global summits.

…………………………………………… . There is no better place than Hiroshima for a strongly worded statement about the possibility of committing to a world without nuclear weapons………..


March 23, 2023 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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