Japanese Prime Minister Kishida has expanded the G7 guest list as he seeks to boost ties with middle-power countries.
Hiroshima, Japan – The Group of Seven (G7) summit is attended by more countries than its name suggests.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the host of this year’s gathering of rich democracies, has expanded the event’s guest list as he seeks to boost ties with middle-power countries and those in the Global South.
The Japanese leader’s outreach comes as the forum seeks to boost cooperation on global challenges, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, the rise of China, food security and climate change.
How many countries are represented at the meeting?
The G7 currently consists of the United States, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy, plus the European Union as an “unlisted member,” but the forum has invited non-member countries to participate throughout of the years. such as India, Poland and Spain.
This year, the leaders of 16 countries, plus the EU, will attend the three-day summit.
In addition to members of the G7 and the EU, leaders from India, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, South Korea and Comoros and the Cook Islands will attend; the latter two also represent the African Union and Pacific Islands Forum, respectively, as their current chairs. .
Why does the G7 want to expand ties with developing countries?
While the G7 seeks to promote a united front in its efforts to pressure Russia to end its war in Ukraine, most of the international community has refused to take sides in the conflict.
With the exception of Japan, the sanctions campaign against Russia has been a Western-led effort.
While Russia’s trade with the G7 countries has slumped, China, India and Turkey have picked up much of the slack by increasing imports of Russian coal, oil and gas. Russia’s economy only contracted by about 2.2 percent in 2022, much less than expected.
Although the G7 remains influential, its share of the global economy has declined from around 70 percent during the 1980s to 44 percent today, meaning it has limited scope to tighten the screws on Russia without the acceptance by the international community at large.
“Kishida wants to reach out to the Global South because currently the G7’s approach to Russia and China is somewhat isolated,” Sayuri Shirai, an economics professor at Keio University in Tokyo, told Al Jazeera.
“Many developing and emerging economies, due to their closer link through natural resources or the economy to Russia and/or China, are very wary of joining a G7-led coalition.
“The Global South is important because its market share is growing and its share of GDP (PPP, based on purchasing power parity) is more than 50 percent,” Shirai added. “Meanwhile, Japan is aging and its population is declining.”
Does this mean that smaller and developing countries will have a bigger say in world affairs?
Some observers hope that this year’s G7 summit will usher in a greater international role for voices that have been ignored in the past.
In an interview with Nikkei Asia earlier this week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he would use the summit to “amplify the voices and concerns of the Global South.”
Ian Hall, deputy director of the Griffith Asia Institute in Australia, said the G7’s broadened focus reflected a “broader crisis of multilateralism.”
“I think the outreach is genuine: there is recognition that voices from the Global South are not always heard and that they need to be if we are going to find any way to make progress on issues like climate change,” Hall told Al Jazeera.
Critics are more skeptical of the G7’s interest in giving the Global South a greater voice in the world.
In an analysis released ahead of the summit, Oxfam said the G7 countries continue to demand $232 million a day in debt repayments from low- and middle-income countries even though they owe $13.3 trillion in aid and unpaid funds for climate action.
“The rich G7 countries like to present themselves as saviors, but what they are is operating by a deadly double standard: they play by one set of rules while their former colonies are forced to play by another. It’s doing what I say, not what I do,” said Oxfam International’s interim executive director, Amitabh Behar.
“It is the rich world that owes the Global South. The help they promised decades ago but never delivered. The enormous costs of climate damage caused by the reckless burning of fossil fuels. The immense wealth built on colonialism and slavery.