Tokyo (Reuters) – The security of both Europe and the Indo-Pacific are set to take centre stage as foreign ministers of the Group of Seven nations gather in Japan from Sunday, meeting against the backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine and China’s growing assertiveness.
The three-day meeting in the resort town of Karuizawa also comes amid concern that some G7 members in Europe – notably French President Emmanuel Macron – were perceived as being weak against China’s threats over self-ruled Taiwan.
China has in recent days held military drills around Taiwan, which it claims as its own, and has never renounced the use of force to bring the democratic island under its control.
“The security of Europe and that of the Indo-Pacific cannot be discussed separately – they are intertwined with each other,” a Japanese foreign ministry official said of the upcoming meeting, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The meeting – which includes ministers from the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Canada, Italy and a representative from the European Union – will serve as a prologue to the Hiroshima Summit of leaders next month lead by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Kishida visited Ukraine last month. The conflict there has triggered a rare outpouring of support for Ukraine in pacifist Japan, with many Japanese seeing Russia’s invasion as highlighting the potential threat to nearby Taiwan from an increasingly assertive China.
“Part of the reason why Japan has been so strong in supporting Ukraine is because they want… broader Western support when it comes to issues of East Asia,” said James D. J. Brown, professor of political science at Temple University Japan.
The meeting will be an opportunity for Japan to encourage other members to focus on the Indo-Pacific and also see the Ukraine crisis as a global event rather than one that is just about European security, he added.
Washington has also been trying to build up G7 commitment on further actions to deter China from taking steps to change the Taiwan’s political status quo, a U.S. diplomatic source told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.
Still, with the backlash following Macron’s comments that suggested caution over involvement in a potential Taiwan crisis, the countries will likely reaffirm the solidarity within the G7 in supporting Ukraine, Temple’s Brown said.
“The G7 has been an important partner in holding Russia accountable for its aggression in Ukraine,” U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said on Monday. “I have no doubt that the G7 will continue to play an important role in that, including at the upcoming foreign ministers’ meeting.”