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Tadae Takubo

【#1041】Can We Rejoice at the “Success” of Hiroshima Summit?

Tadae Takubo / 2023.05.31 (Wed)

May 29, 2023

Japanese mass media emptily described the Group of Seven Hiroshima summit as having renewed the determination to realize a “world without nuclear weapons” or having reaffirmed “commitment to peace” in Hiroshima. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s surprise visit there importantly raised a question about what the reality of international politics is. Festival-like celebrations or Japanese-style hospitality cannot improve the cold and harsh reality of the world.

Trump’s comeback may dramatically change the world

The British Financial Times on May 22 carried an article written by its Chief Foreign Affairs Commentator Gideon Rachman on the Western support to Ukraine.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump boasted in March that he could end the war in Ukraine “in one day” if he were reelected president. Although any specific measures in his mind are unknown. given the fact that the United States accounts for the bulk of Western military support for Ukraine, Trump’s reelection can be a harbinger of a dramatic change in the international situation. Serious confrontation may arise at some stage between U.S. Democrats and Republicans over Ukraine.

Rachman points out the United States and Europe are about to use up inventories for military supplies for Ukraine, warning that unless they put their weapons factories under a wartime economic regime, they may fail to provide weapons or ammunition at a pace required at Ukrainian battlefields.

While we are dominated with information that is comfortable for us and unfavorable for Russia, the chorus of criticism against Russia and China at the G7 Hiroshima summit may easily crumble.

Japan taking advantage of special treatment

Still, why is Japan so carefree? As Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reiterates his vow to follow the policy line of late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, conservative commentators praise the government’s three strategic documents issued last December and praise its commitment to increasing Japan’s defense spending to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) in five years as a historic achievement.

The 2% of GDP target for defense spending became an issue at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during the U.S. Trump administration. I doubt if any NATO member country still discusses the 2% of GDP target. The Baltic states and newly joined Finland are becoming more alert to Russia towards the post-Ukraine age. It is common sense that the target is 3% to 6% of GDP.

Japan, this year’s G7 chair, is taking advantage of special treatment that allows it to limit supplies for Ukraine to nonlethal materials. The other G7 members are quietly watching Japan likened to a horse that had been reluctant to drink water and has begun at last to go closer to water’s edge. Any country that fails to know itself cannot survive. I repeat, Japan is the G7 chair now.

Tadae Takubo is Vice President, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and a professor emeritus at Kyorin University.