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EDITORIAL | Japan-Italy Summit's Strongest Message is Deterrence

The Japan-Italy talks focused on global and regional security issues and their joint development with the UK of a next-generation fighter aircraft.



Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on February 5, 2024. (© Sankei by Hideyuki Matsui)

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni agreed to deepen bilateral cooperation on February 5. Meeting in Tokyo, the Japan-Italy leaders agreed to start with a focus on diplomacy and security.

Besides being a G7 nation, Italy is an important member of NATO and the EU. It has the third highest GDP among EU members, after Germany and France. 

Italy's growing interest in security in the Indo-Pacific region is welcome. In 2024, for the first time, an Italian aircraft carrier strike group is scheduled to visit Japanese ports. It will also conduct joint exercises with the Japan Self-Defense Forces. Moreover, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Japan are jointly developing a next-generation fighter jet. Italy is considered an important partner in that regard. 

In 2024, Italy holds the G7 presidency, as Japan did in 2023. Prime Minister Meloni told PM Kishida, "Receiving the baton, we intend to strive to leave some outstanding achievements." The two leaders also agreed to work closely in preparation for the upcoming G7 Summit in mid-June in Fasano, Italy. 

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni speak to the press after their February 5 summit meeting. At the Prime Minister's Office (© Sankei by Hideyuki Matsui)

Challenges Ahead

There are no signs of an end to the invasion of Ukraine or the latest Middle East crisis. And the November American presidential election is fast approaching. Any of these could lead to drastic changes in the security situation. 

Moreover, unity within the G7 is also being tested. Public opinion in the US and several European countries evidences "aid fatigue" regarding Ukraine. 

It was certainly timely that the leaders of Japan and Italy met against this backdrop. Together, they announced their determination to uphold a free and open international order based on the rule of law. 

In addition to the situations in the Mideast and Ukraine, Kishida and Meloni discussed a range of other issues. Those included the North Korean nuclear and missile issues, the abductions issue and East Asian affairs, and concerns regarding China.  

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Belt and Road conference in Beijing on October 18, 2023. (©Kyodo)

Disruptive China and Russia

China is increasing its military pressure while aiming to annex Taiwan. Meanwhile, Beijing does not hesitate to use trade and investment as weapons to pressure parties that do not do as it wishes. 

Both China and Russia continue to infringe on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other nations. In the meantime, North Korea repeatedly launches missiles. All three countries flagrantly ignore international rules. The G7 nations, which share the same values, must unite to deter them. 

Italy was the only G7 nation to join China's enormous "Belt and Road" economic scheme. However, after the launch of the Meloni government, Italy expressed its intention to withdraw. Italy shares with us strong security concerns about China. That it should be sending an aircraft carrier strike force to visit Japan sends a strong message of deterrence. 

We would like to see Japan and Italy vigorously pursue diplomatic and security cooperation that will contribute to world peace and stability. That includes the joint development of the next-generation fighter aircraft.


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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