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[Tokyo Outlook] Can the G7 Prevent a New Era of War?

With the conclusion of the G7 Hiroshima Summit on May 21, a pertinent inquiry arises: How will future leaders evaluate the summit's impact a decade from now?



President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and other G7 leaders pose for a photo before a working session on Ukraine during the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Sunday, May 21, 2023. (© Susan Walsh/Pool via REUTERS)

The G7 Hiroshima Summit was unprecedented in that the theme of war took center stage. 

Notably, Hiroshima served as the host city for the summit, bringing to bear its historical weight as the first site to suffer a nuclear attack. It is where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb during World War II. This time, the US was one of the seven member nations that participated in the summit.

The G7 leaders discussed their commitment to supporting Ukraine in its battle against Russia's aggression, including the supply of weaponry. Notably, the surprise appearance of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave him the opportunity to present his country's case to the leaders in person. Ultimately, the leaders unanimously agreed to continue their support for Ukraine.

President Zelenskyy also held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. India has so far maintained good relations with Russia, despite its aggression in Ukraine.

G7 leaders listen to an explanation of the history of the city's devastation and rebirth from Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui at Peace Memorial Park on May 19, Naka Ward, Hiroshima City. (Pool photo)

Multiple Global Crises

Prior to the summit, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida contributed an article to JAPAN Forward. In it, he stated, "Russia's aggression against Ukraine has shaken the very foundation of the international order. Now the world is facing multiple crises, including [the] climate crisis, pandemic, and geopolitical crisis." 

Kishida further declared that with the G7 leaders, he was determined to demonstrate a "strong determination to uphold the free and open international order based on the rule of law." And the G7 nations did exactly that.

Observing from a greater distance, The Wall Street Journal published an article titled "As G-7 Host, Japan Schools the World" by columnist Walter Russell Mead. In it, he noted that the summit provided an opportunity for allied countries to address global crises. Mead also predicted that the Indo-Pacific region's significance in international politics would grow due to concerns about China.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida lay a wreath in front of the Cenotaph for the Victims of the Atomic Bomb at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, after Zelenskyy was invited to the G7 leaders' summit in Hiroshima, Japan, May 21, 2023. (© Foreign Affairs of Japan/Handout via REUTERS)

The Rising Threat of China and Russia

Although the summit has concluded, what follows is what matters most.

On May 20, the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed "strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition" to the G7 joint communique. Similarly, on May 21, the Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the G7 as an "incubator" where "destructive initiatives that undermine global stability are prepared."

China and Russia are likely to deepen their cooperation, aiming to sow division within the G7 nations. They are seeking to engage with emerging and developing countries known as the "Global South," which are distancing themselves from the West. Economic weapons, such as energy and food, could be utilized to achieve this objective.

In an interview with JAPAN Forward, Ukrainian international political scholar Andrii Gurenko highlighted Russia's determination to occupy Ukraine regardless of how long it takes. He explained that Russia plans to accomplish this by inciting a sense of crisis within Ukraine through devious stratagems and acts of sabotage.


Gurenko dismissed rosy views of the situation. He asserted that even if Ukraine manages to retake occupied territories through a counteroffensive, it would be extremely difficult to end the war with Russia, which surpasses Ukraine in both population and national power.

Fighters of the Russian private military company Wagner stand in front of a damaged building in Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, eastern Ukraine, April 10. (© TASS via Kyodo)

A Free and Open International Order

Meanwhile, China's militarization and its nuclear capabilities are escalating as it seeks forced unification with Taiwan.

There is significant interest among our global readership in the US-China rivalry and developments in the covert movements of the Chinese military. In fact, the most-read article in JAPAN Forward in the past two weeks is "Expert on China's PLA Says It's Mulling First Strike on Bases in Japan."

Whether world leaders will consider the G7 Hiroshima Summit as a pivotal event in preventing an era of war remains to be seen. The world is currently at a historical crossroads.

Reporter Arielle Busetto from JAPAN Forward remarked, "Given the significance of Hiroshima as the host city, I believe that the summit will have a more lasting impact on people's memories than previous summits."

JAPAN Forward remains committed to providing insightful analyses on global affairs, encompassing the escalating nuclear coercion from Russia, China's threats towards Taiwan, and India's prominence as a major player in the Global South.

Above all, we will continue to shed light on Japan's endeavors to preserve a "free and open international order based on the rule of law." 

Watch for the next issue on June 19.

"Has the world entered another Warring States era? — Surviving Turmoil and Transformation"

JAPAN Forward editorial board member Professor Jason Morgan will be delivering the above lecture in Japanese on June 6. For details and registration, please visit https://peatix.com/event/3589727.


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Yasuo Naito, Editor in Chief, JAPAN Forward


Stay up to date with the latest from our JAPAN Forward team and the projects we are engaged in. Explore topics we find important and discover the news we are prioritizing, penned by our Editor in Chief, Yasuo Naito.


Stay up to date with the latest from our JAPAN Forward team and the projects we are engaged in. Explore topics we find important and discover the news we are prioritizing, penned by our Editor in Chief, Yasuo Naito.

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