Japan as G7 Chair Attains Progress on Ukraine and AI but Lacks Leadership on Israel and Gaza Situation

Japan, presiding over the rotating presidency of the G7 this year, concluded its final virtual summit on Wednesday evening. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took the lead in establishing regulations for artificial intelligence and worked towards maintaining G7 unity in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. However, Japan failed to demonstrate strong leadership in addressing the Israel-Hamas conflict. The G7 consists of Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

During the virtual summit, Kishida highlighted the G7’s agreement to establish comprehensive international rules governing AI. He stated, “The agreement powerfully demonstrates to the rest of the world that the G7 can effectively and quickly address the issue of governance of generative AI, which has been evolving at a rapid pace.” This agreement was initially proposed by Kishida at the Hiroshima G7 Summit in May, expressing his concerns about the growing use of generative AI. He worked to convince various G7 members of the need to establish rules on this issue.

The G7’s response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine was a significant focus during the Hiroshima Summit. The leaders of Brazil and India, as well as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, were invited to Hiroshima. This provided an opportunity for Zelenskyy to seek support from the Global South nations, represented by Brazil and India, and demonstrate G7 unity on this issue.

Japan faced a diplomatic challenge regarding the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. While other G7 members, excluding Japan, issued a statement in late October supporting Israel’s right to self-defense, Japan, as the chair of the G7, failed to exhibit its leadership in this matter. This was partly due to difficulties in balancing Japan’s alliance with the United States and its dependency on Middle Eastern countries for crude oil imports.

Amid rapidly changing international circumstances, a senior official from the Japanese Foreign Ministry acknowledged the challenges Japan faced in navigating the differing opinions among G7 members. Despite making progress on AI regulations and demonstrating unity on the issue of Russian aggression in Ukraine, Japan’s leadership in addressing the Israel-Hamas conflict fell short. However, Japan’s efforts to maintain G7 unity and address critical global issues were evident throughout its presidency.

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