May 26, 2016 4:00 pm JST

Staving off slowdown at top of G-7 agenda

The Group of Seven leaders attend a working lunch at a hotel in Shima, Japan, on May 26. (Courtesy of Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

ISE-SHIMA, Japan -- The leaders of the Group of Seven big industrial nations discussed ways to prevent the global economy from slowing further at their summit, which opened in Ise-Shima in the western Japanese prefecture of Mie on Thursday.

The two-day meeting hosted by Japan was also due to talk about security in the South China Sea and counterterrorism, among other issues. At an expanded meeting on Friday that will include leaders from Asia and Africa, participants will try to work out measures to support infrastructure investment. The G-7 members hope to demonstrate solidarity in supporting sustained growth worldwide.

The summit, which is taking place at a hotel in the city of Shima, consists of seven sessions. In addition to major topics such as trade, energy and development, the Ise-Shima gathering will highlight the need to promote the role of women in workplace and the digital economy, two themes Japan is keen to stress.

Call for growth

At Thursday's meeting, members were discussing the global economy, including financial and fiscal policies, and structural reforms. They were also to talk about the steps they are taking individually to deal with current conditions.

On Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama held talks ahead of the summit. Abe told reporters afterward the two sides had agreed "the G-7 must lead strong, sustained growth in the global economy." Japan and the U.S. were expected to call on the U.K. and Germany to chime in on that subject, as the two countries have been wary of fiscal expansion.

At a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from G-7 nations on May 20-21 in Sendai, northern Japan, there was no consensus on the need for more public spending to shore up the global economy. Observers are therefore watching whether the leaders gathered in Ise-Shima will be able to coordinate their economic policies, and to what degree.

On trade, they were expected to agree to work toward quick implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement and finalization of an economic partnership agreement between Japan and the European Union.

A joint action plan is likely to include stronger anti-corruption measures in response to news of extensive tax dodging by wealthy individuals, as revealed by the so-called Panama Papers, which has stirred criticism across the globe.

Later on Thursday, the leaders were to focus on political and diplomatic issues, including terrorism, refugees, North Korea's nuclear program and the conflict in Ukraine.

On the second day, members are scheduled to discuss climate change and energy in the morning, before inviting three leaders from outside the group -- Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno -- to join discussions on how to achieve sustainable growth in Asia and Africa.

In the afternoon, the G-7 members were due to issue a joint statement on the outcome of the summit. Abe was to hold a news conference to wrap up the event.

(Nikkei)

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