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Apulia G7 Puts Italy-Japan Cooperation in the Spotlight

For PM Kishida, host country Italy's focus on bilateral relations and participating in Indo-Pacific security was a key takeaway from the G7 summit.



Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and PM Giorgia Meloni talk at the G7 Summit on June 14 in Italy. (Prime Minister's Office)

On June 15, Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni concluded the G7 Leaders Summit in Borgo Egnazia, in the Apulia region of Southern Italy. In her press conference, she highlighted the Indo-Pacific region and Japan, bringing a renewed spotlight to the tense region. 

Closing a Historic G7 Summit

Meloni warmly thanked participating countries. She further added that she was "eternally grateful" to Pope Francis for becoming the first pontiff to participate in the leaders' meeting. The Italian host also mentioned the themes taken up by the G7 leaders. Aside from the Indo-Pacific, key working sessions addressed the war in Ukraine, sustainable development in Africa, and artificial intelligence

For Meloni, a key point was adding more voices to the table. Those included invitees such as Jordan, Kenya, Mauritania, Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Brazil, Argentina, India, and Ukraine. In her own words, the idea was "to quash this myth that the G7 is about the West against everyone else."

Host Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni summarizes the Apulia Summit in her closing press conference. (Courtesy of G7 Italy website)

Significant Moves in Bilateral Ties With Japan

For Japan, the bilateral accords with Italy, and PM Meloni, were among the most significant results from the G7 Summit.

Since 2022 and especially this year, relations between the two countries have risen to new heights. When Italy's PM paid a state visit to Tokyo in February 2024, the two leaders reiterated their close partnership. 

Aiming for broadened cooperation, Kishida and Meloni signed the Japan-Italy Action Plan at their bilateral meeting. Focusing on seven areas, defense, trade, aerospace, renewable energy, culture, and movement of people, the plan looks toward 2027. "As you can see, our relations have focused on what is strategic," Meloni said on June 15. 

The two countries also started talks toward a Japan-Italy Acquisition Cross-Servicing Agreement, with a heavier emphasis on trade. 

A diplomat who spoke to JAPAN Forward said the Japanese side sees the agreements as a base for future initiatives. "We see it as a first step towards stronger collaboration [with Italy), including in defense," she told us.

Roundtable discussion of G7 leaders and guests at the Apulia Summit. (Courtesy of G7 Italy website)

Supporting a 'Free and Open International Order'

More widely, the strengthened partnership comes as the two countries bring renewed focus to the Indo-Pacific. The bilateral action plan further highlights the "importance of the free and open international order based on the rule of law," and the common understanding that "the security of Europe and the Indo-Pacific are inseparable." 

On June 15, Meloni confirmed that Italy's presence in the Indo-Pacific is important to her administration. "In the past year, we've strengthened our presence in the Indo-Pacific in terms of ships. And we see it as crucial from a strategic point of view," said the Italian PM. She also highlighted the importance of gaining consensus among "like-minded" countries on themes such as strengthening supply chain resilience. 

G7 leaders and invited leaders of guest countries stand for a family photo in Apulia. (Courtesy of G7 Italy website)

Juggling Italy-China Relations

Relations between Italy and China are also in the background. Italy's Il Foglio newspaper reported in May that the Italian leader was expected to travel to China in July. There, she would meet with her counterpart, President Xi Jinping. On June 14, Meloni confirmed that preparations for the visit were underway, although "details were still being ironed out."

Italy is walking a fine line in its relations with China. Until 2023, it was the only European country represented in Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative, China's broad trade and investment scheme. Nevertheless, Meloni exited the agreement in late 2023. Since then, Italy has been nursing its relationship with China while juggling its own interests and the G7 line.

Meanwhile, the G7 leaders were sending an increasingly strong message to China. Expressing their opposition to China's aggressive stance in the South and East China Seas, and its unfair trade practices, the G7 leaders called for "a level playing field." Meloni repeated this sentiment on June 15 while wrapping up the G7 Summit. Specifically, she advocated "encouraging a free market, but one where everyone has an equal chance to compete."

When asked about prospects on Italy-China relations, Meloni surmised, "We are open to dialogue, but our businesses have to be able to compete."


Author: Arielle Busetto