Abe has been treading an increasingly narrow path amid a deepening standoff between China — Japan’s biggest trade partner — and the US, its sole military ally. Ties between the US and China turned sour over trade, and have worsened in recent months over the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing’s handling of Hong Kong.
Abe said in parliament that the G7 remained significant even after the establishment of the G20 because its members share the “universal values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law”.
US President Donald Trump last month postponed the G7 summit until the northern autumn, and proposed inviting the leaders of Russia, South Korea, Australia and India, alongside the usual participants. Abe, who has worked hard to build a rapport with Trump, has said he plans to attend the summit if it’s held in person, even if that could mean he is forced to quarantine afterwards.
Tensions are also growing between China and other members of the G7, including the UK, where MPs are asking questions about whether Huawei should supply equipment for Britain’s 5G network.
Abe said this week that Japan was not in a position to set dates for a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which was postponed from April as both countries struggled to control the virus. The occasion had been meant to mark a return to normal for the often-fraught relationship between the two countries.
Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told the same parliamentary committee that Japan did not have China in mind as it considers loosening its border controls. Priority would be given to countries including Vietnam and New Zealand, where new cases have fallen to zero, he said.
Germany, France, Italy, the UK and Canada make up the G7 alongside Japan and the US. Canada has said it opposes the readmission of Russia into the group. Russia was ejected after it annexed Crimea.