Japanese spokesman discusses BGF-G7 Summit Initiative issues

( April 25th, 2016) In a wide-ranging conversation on April 18 with Harvard Prof. Thomas Patterson of The Boston Global Forum,  Yasuhisa Kawamura, Director-General for Press and Public Policy of the Japanese government, discussed Japan’s hopes and concerns as the G7 Summit nears. Japan will host the May 26-27 conference. Mr. Yasuhisa is the main spokesman for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

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The conversation was another in the series of online dialogues in the BGF-G7 Summit Initiative, in which the BGF is working with Japanese officials to craft proposals to be considered by the national leaders at the summit.

Professor Patterson led off by expressing sorrow about the death and suffering in Japan’s Kyushu region ravaged by recent earthquakes. Mr. Kawamura, in response, thanked the U.S. for offers of aid and discussed  ongoing rescue efforts.

On the G7 Summit, Mr. Kawamura emphasized the “fundamental values’’ of democracy, human rights and free markets shared by the G7 members that will inform all their decisions.

He forecast that major themes of the conference will include how to address the growing use of force to, as he said, “change the status quo,’’ in reference to Russia’s seizure of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine; North Korean nuclear and missile saber-rattling, and  Chinese military threats in the East Asia and South China Seas. Terrorism, which mostly now means Islamic terrorism, will, of course,  be another big topic.

Mr. Kawamura particularly praised the increasing cooperation of Japan, South Korea and the United States in trying to protect northeast Asia from the North Korean regime. And in reference to that threat and to Chinese aggression, he cited efforts to increase the deterrence power of Japan, the United States and some other Pacific nations.

Not surprisingly, he said that other summit themes would include coordinating economic policies; climate change; addressing new  global health dangers, presumably such as the Zika virus; advancing support for universal healthcare; improving the status of women, and  pushing for environmentally sustainable economic development. The last item includes assisting developing nations to improve their physical infrastructure, long a priority of the Japanese government.

When asked to what extent improving cybersecurity, the BGF’s biggest theme in the BGF-G7 Initiative, will be discussed at the summit, Mr. Kawamura, said that summit planners are still working out  final details of the agenda. But in any event, he said, Japan believes, with the BGF and the U.S.,  that “the rule of law’’ must be applied to cyberbehavior.