G-7 must unite to avoid isolationist trap: The Yomiuri Shimbun

Italy's Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni walks with US President Donald Trump ahead of the family photo at the Greek Theatre during the G7 Summit in Taormina, on May 26, 2017.
Italy's Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni walks with US President Donald Trump ahead of the family photo at the Greek Theatre during the G7 Summit in Taormina, on May 26, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

In its editorial on May 29, the paper exhorts the need for the G-7 nations to unite to retain their influence and achieve their common goals.

TOKYO (THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN /ASIA NEWS NETWORK)- Avoiding the isolation of the United States and solidifying unity is a way to maintain the influence of the Group of Seven major industrialised countries.

The G-7 summit held in Taormina, Italy, ended its meeting with the adoption of a statement by world leaders. Regarding free trade, a focal point of the summit this time, the statement included the wording "to keep our markets open and to fight protectionism."

Since the inauguration of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, antiprotectionist wording has disappeared from joint statements at major international conferences attended by the United States. This is a reflection of the thinking of the U.S. administration, which is touting "America first."

Trump has given top priority to shrinking U.S. trade deficits and has shown a position of not ruling out even a protectionist approach that unilaterally restricts imports.

It can be welcomed that Trump, who attended the G-7 summit for the first time, compromised with other leaders to allow the specific mention of antiprotectionism in the statement.

However, in the debates, Trump referred to imposing high tariffs on trade partners, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel refuted his arguments, showing the G-7 countries are not united like a monolith.

Concerning the Paris Agreement, an international framework for measures against global warming, Trump did not deny the possibility of the United States withdrawing. This conflict with the other six countries was not resolved.

G-7 summits are held so advanced countries, which share the values of freedom and democracy, can take concerted action to lead the peace and prosperity of the world.

As emerging countries are rapidly gaining power, the G-7 nations are required to coordinate more than before in their policies. Japan and European countries must persistently explain to the United States the importance of international cooperation.

It is significant that in response to North Korea's nuclear and missile development, the statement called for a resolution by using the more explicit expression of saying the nation poses "new levels of threat."

North Korea has already fired ballistic missiles eight times this year. It is also improving its ability to conduct surprise attacks and the accuracy of its missiles while steadily developing longer-range missiles. It is also preparing the deployment of a new type of missile for actual use. It is reasonable that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the nation "a threat to the entire world that goes beyond northeast Asia."

Abe said emphatically at the G-7 summit, "It's time for the international community to apply pressure [on North Korea] in solidarity." Based on the leaders' statement, which gave "top priority" to North Korean issues, G-7 countries must urge China, which has a strong influence on Pyongyang, to strengthen its pressure and establish an international encirclement of the country.

With the suicide bomb attack in Britain in mind, a statement on measures to fight terrorism was also adopted.

New types of cooperation among each government, internet operators and others are indispensable in preventing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militant group and others from using the internet for agitation and to recruit terrorists. The use of state-of-the-art technology, such as the automatic detection of terrorist information, will be an important issue.

The Yomiuri Shimbun is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 22 news media entities.