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G7 Ise-Shima Summit

post date : 2016.06.06

G7 summitAsahi: Abe exploits G-7, uses flimsy crisis scenario to delay sales tax hike

Sankei: Strong stance on China shared: cooperate on security and economy as well

Nikkei: Working towards global stability: the responsibilities of the G7 grow larger

Mainichi: 'Global economic crisis' staged for Abe's own cause at Ise-Shima Summit

Yomiuri: G-7 must work to avoid risks facing global economy / Nations’ joint efforts also key to maritime order



The G7 Summit was held on May 26 and 27 in Ise-Shima, Mie Prefecture, with a Leaders’ Declaration adopted at its conclusion. In their May 29 or 30 editorials, the five national papers all had some positive commentary on the successes of the summit, but the focus of the editorials was divided between being on whether the G7 nations shared a position on global economic outlook, or on showing a united front towards China and Russia.


■ Is the Global Economy in a Crisis


The Yomiuri stated that the G7 Leaders’ Declaration would help overcome the global economic crisis: “The Group of Seven advanced nations have shown their resolve to play the leading role in the international community to overcome various risks that the world is facing, and have presented steps for tackling these issues… The statement…called for the G-7’s cooperation in employing flexible fiscal strategies to make up for weak demand.” The paper also mentioned that “It is significant to a certain extent that Japan and the United States, which take a positive stance toward fiscal stimulus, were able to find some common ground with Germany and Britain, which are reluctant about such a move.”


The Nikkei praised the G7 Summit, saying “The confirmation that they will collectively tackle weak growth was meaningful,” but also stated that as the G7 nation with the lowest growth rate, Japan has a “very heavy” responsibility, and that “fiscal soundness will require vigilance.” Noting “Abe explained that movements in resource prices and developing economies are similar to the circumstances before the 2008 global financial crisis. Claiming that the current situation is equivalent to that unprecedented crisis is going too far, and so it is no surprise that this was viewed as Abe laying the groundwork for fiscal stimulus and a delay to the consumption tax hike,” the paper argued caution in determining if stimulus would contribute to growth, and that “delaying the consumption tax hike will not eliminate concerns about the future.”


The Asahi, mentioning “Abe in his post-summit news conference repeatedly talked about the ‘largest drop since the Lehman Brothers crisis,’” then critically noted “That remark deviated from the leaders’ declaration, which presented the basic view that ‘the global recovery continues, but growth remains moderate and uneven.’” Based on the perspective that the prime minister’s statements may have just been preparation for another delay of the consumption tax hike, the paper commented “A second postponement of the consumption tax rate increase could lead economic policy in the wrong direction. Moreover, having taken advantage of the summit for that purpose could lead to Japan losing the confidence of G-7 members.”


The Mainichi also criticized this same point: “Abe probably attempted to take advantage of the G-7 chairmanship to postpone the consumption tax raise scheduled for April 2017, and at the same time he sought to avert criticism that the failure of his economic policy mix led to such a postponement. For the Japanese prime minister to be taken that way undermines the confidence in Japan in the international community.”


■ Seeking a Firm Stance On China and Russia


The Sankei focused exclusively on political and foreign policy topics, declaring the greatest success of the summit to be “the G7 nations sharing a critical view of China’s maritime expansion.” In particular, the paper stated that the European nations, who have been strengthening economic ties with China, going along with Japan and the US in stating a critical view of China was “different from recent trends, and worthy of notice.” The paper also asserted that “There is no basis for China’s claims that its territory covers the majority of the South China Sea,” and argued that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs strong protest to the mention of the South China Sea issue in the Leaders’ Declaration was “an indication of their concern over this united front against China.”


On the subject of China’s maritime expansion in the East and South China Seas, the Yomiuri also wrote “It is an achievement that the G-7 leaders of European nations, geographically distant from China, shared [Abe’s] perception, while also making sure that the declaration stated they were ‘concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas’...”


The Mainichi also commented on the political discussion over how China and Russia are “changing the status quo through the use of force”: “While the G-7 leaders reached an agreement on their general views, there was a conflict of opinions over individual measures in responding to the issues surrounding Russia and China.” On the response to China in particular, the paper noted “The G-7 leaders' declaration avoided explicitly naming China and stopped short of addressing such countermeasures as the United States' freedom of navigation operations,” and stated “The latest summit meeting underscored the fact that the G-7 nations are not necessarily monolithic...” The Mainichi also pointed out the difficulty of responding to Russia: “While the United States and Britain adopt a hard-line stance over sanctions against Russia, there are calls for relaxing anti-Russia sanctions among Germany, France and Italy, which receive resources from Russia. Japan also takes a unique position as it is engaged in a territorial row over the four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido. After a heated discussion, the G-7 leaders failed to reach a conclusion and ended up adhering to last year's G-7 leaders' declaration in stating that it was up to Russia's response whether the sanctions will be lifted or not.”


The Nikkei states that how to convince China and Russia to act responsibly is an important issue, while analyzing Chinese relations: “Just as was done last year, the declaration avoided naming China, indicating some degree of discretion towards China.” The paper also argued for solidarity among the G7 nations, stating “No matter how justified their arguments, if they are not all working together, the G7 nations will not have a global impact.”


Only the Sankei and Yomiuri commented on North Korea, an issue of great concern to Japan, with the Sankei stating “In order to stop North Korea’s reckless actions and solve the abductions issue, it is vital for the European nations to become more involved. The G7 should show leadership in ensuring that all nations strictly observe the UN Security Council’s sanctions.”



Photo:picture alliance/AFLO



*English translations of The Yomiuri, The Asahi and The Mainichi are from The Japan News, The Asia & Japan Watch and The Mainichi, respectively.  Those for The Nikkei and The Sankei are provisional. The content of this page was made by the Foreign Press Center Japan and does not reflect the opinion of the Japanese Government or any other organization.

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