TOKYO (THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – The free and open international order is being shaken by challenges from China and Russia. To protect peace and prosperity, nations that value human rights and the rule of law must strengthen their unity.
The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G-7) countries recently held talks for the second time this year, having met in May in a highly unusual manner.
“I have once again felt the importance for the G-7, which shares core values and principles, to work together to lead the international community,” Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters on his first overseas trip since taking office.
During the talks, the G-7 adopted a joint statement on the situation in Ukraine, condemning Russian military pressure. “Further military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and high costs in response,” the group said in an urgent warning it issued.
Each country has expressed concern about China’s crackdown on human rights in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, as well as its attempts to unilaterally change the status quo in the East and South China Seas. They also reiterated the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
China and Russia have repeated actions that flout international rules. It was significant for the G-7 foreign ministers to rally and send out another message that the group does not condone these actions.
Hayashi also expressed “serious concern” about China’s behavior. China regularly invades Japan’s territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands. Japan should take the lead in such discussions in the G-7.
Referring to the “diplomatic boycott” of the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, with some nations failing to send a government delegation, the foreign minister said he had informed his counterparts that the Japanese government “will make a decision in due course after various thoroughly examined the circumstances”.
Unless China responds to other countries’ concerns about human rights suppression and hegemonic behavior, the Beijing Games are unlikely to succeed. It is vital that China takes concrete action, such as recruiting an international investigative team. Hayashi must clearly state the attitude of Japan.
The first extended G-7 talks with ASEAN took place without the participation of Myanmar, where military repression of pro-democracy elements continues.
The G-7 and ASEAN reaffirmed that maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific is in their common interest and agreed to work together on maritime security and infrastructure development. The G-7 and ASEAN announced that they would work more closely together in the future.
These expanded talks must continue, and Japan, which has a long history of working with ASEAN member states and is familiar with each nation’s situation, should serve as a bridge between the two groups.
During his stay in the UK, Hayashi held one-to-one meetings with the foreign ministers of the G-7 countries and Australia. He also changed with the foreign minister of South Korea, but without seating and on the sidelines. In order to overcome various pending problems, it is imperative for Hayashi to make efforts to build personal relationships.
- The Yomiuri Shimbun is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media organizations.