Skip to content

Trudeau arrives in Japan for G7 summit amid geopolitical tensions with China, Russia

Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Japan meet in Hiroshima
Police officers prepare for security near Hiroshima station in Hiroshima, western Japan Thursday, May 18, 2023. Leaders of seven of the world’s most powerful democracies will gather this weekend for the G-7 summit in Hiroshima, the location of the world’s first atomic attack at the end of the Second World War. (Yosuke Mizuno/Kyodo News via AP)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has landed in Hiroshima, Japan for the G7 Leaders’ Summit, where he’s expected to push for increased co-operation on global and economic security to guard against geopolitical instability and the threat of climate change.

All eyes will be on how G7 countries, however, choose to address the threat of China specifically.

Leaders of G7 countries – Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Japan – meet annually to collaborate on shared goals. This year’s summit will focus on seven main agenda items, including geopolitical and global security issues, economic resilience and climate change and energy.

Prior to the summit, Trudeau concluded his first official visit to South Korea on Thursday where the two countries reached agreements on the supply chain of critical minerals — used for electric vehicles — and youth mobility.

Canada is hoping to expand its alliances beyond its traditional western partners by seeking closer relationships with South Korea and Japan. The Liberal government’s Indo-Pacific strategy provides a roadmap for strengthening military and economic relationships in the region to counterbalance the influence of Beijing.

Seoul and Tokyo have also been working to repair their relations as they deepen three-way security co-operation with Washington in response to growing regional threats from North Korea and China.

The meeting between G7 countries comes amid elevated tensions with China in the region and an ongoing war in Ukraine, both of which are expected to be focuses of the summit.

For Canada’s part, it’s expected to seek the G7 members’ co-operation on providing ongoing support to Ukraine as well as addressing climate change.

In a statement Trudeau provided to the University of Toronto’s G7 research group ahead of the summit, the prime minister linked addressing climate change with increased security.

“The clean economy presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to not only keep 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming within reach and to avert the worst impacts of climate change, but also to create and secure good, middle-class jobs for our people and grow our economies,” Trudeau wrote.

“When we cut emissions, we can drive economic growth and build new strong, reliable supply chains that reduce our reliance on raw materials and components from countries such as China and Russia, too. This is economic policy, it is climate policy and it is security policy.”

Trudeau also addressed tensions with China during a joint news conference with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Wednesday, noting both countries plan to be careful in their approach with China.

“We recognize – both of us – that China is an important economic partner, not just in the region but around the world,” Trudeau said.

“But we need to be clear-eyed about where we co-operate with China,” Trudeau added, noting that Canada co-hosted a United Nations summit on biodiversity with the country in Montreal last year.

“We need to know where we’re going to be competing with China on economic grounds and where we need to challenge China on human rights and other issues,” he said.

“It’s something that we will both be continuing to do in ways that make sense for our own countries and our own situations.”

South Korea has also been invited to attend the G7 Leaders’ Summit.

Last week, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland met with other G7 finance ministers and discussed how to increase co-operation among like-minded countries.

They aim to “differentiate our economies to make our supply chains more resilient, and to create good jobs for people in Canada and around the world,” she said during a news conference Friday.

“Specifically, (by) working together to respond to economic coercion by authoritarian regimes.”

But the joint statement released by the finance ministers and central bankers did not include any specific mention of China or of “economic coercion” in pursuit of political objectives, such as penalizing the companies of countries whose governments take actions that anger another country.

The summit is also expected to give more voice and attention to the Global South — a term to describe mostly developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Japan has invited countries ranging from South American powerhouse Brazil to the tiny Cook Islands in the South Pacific.

By broadening the conversation beyond the world’s richest industrialized nations, analysts say the group hopes to strengthen political and economic ties while shoring up support for efforts to isolate Russia and stand up to China’s assertiveness around the world.

—Nojoud Al Mallees, The Canadian Press

READ MORE: Global, economic security top priorities as Trudeau heads to South Korea, G7 summit

READ MORE: G7 vows to step up moves to renewable energy, zero carbon