HIROSHIMA, Japan (AP) – Leaders of the world’s wealthy democracies flock to Hiroshima, a city whose name evokes the tragedy of war, to grapple with challenges such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and escalating tensions.
Attention to the war in Europe is on the rise just days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a dizzying trip to meet with many of the leaders of the seven major nations, now heading into a summit that begins Friday. The purpose of the visit was to increase the country’s arsenal of weapons and gain political support for the long-awaited counteroffensive to retake the Moscow-occupied territories.
“Ukraine has advanced the common goals of the G7,” said Matthew P. Goodman, senior vice president for economics at the Institute for Strategic and International Studies. He said the new pledges received by Zelensky just before the summit could persuade alliance members to gain even more support. “There is a kind of peer pressure in a forum like this,” he explained.
G7 leaders are also concerned about the possibility of renewed conflict in Asia as relations with China worsen. Among other things, they are increasingly concerned about Beijing’s growing assertiveness and what they see as China’s attempt to seize Taiwan by force, which could spark a wider conflict. China claims the autonomous island as its own, and regularly sends ships and fighter jets to the neighborhood.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also wants to draw attention to the risks of nuclear proliferation at a meeting in Hiroshima, the site of the world’s first atomic bombing.
The possibility of a new nuclear attack is underscored by neighboring North Korea’s nuclear program, recent spate of missile tests, and Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine war. Meanwhile, the Pentagon estimates that China is rapidly expanding its nuclear warheads from a current estimate of 400 to 1,500 by 2035.
Concerns about the strength of the global economy, rising prices and the US debt crisis will dominate heads of state and governments.
G7 finance ministers and central bank governors met ahead of the summit and pledged to impose sanctions on Russia, fight rising inflation, strengthen the financial system and help heavily indebted countries. The G7 includes the US, Japan, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, and the European Union.
The group also pays more attention to the needs of the Global South (a term used primarily to describe developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America), moving countries from the South American powerhouse Brazil to the tiny Cook Islands in the South Pacific.