Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi is unlikely to attend a meeting of G-20 foreign ministers in India from Wednesday, instead prioritizing parliamentary business, according to a government official.
It remains unclear whether he will attend a Friday meeting of the Quad nations, consisting of the US and Australia, alongside India, according to the official, who asked not to be identified in line with policy. The news was reported earlier by Japanese media, including the Nikkei newspaper. A deputy minister is likely to be dispatched in his place, the reports said.
Keeping the foreign minister at home for a domestic matter could irritate Group of 20 host India. The move comes as Japan seeks to bolster security and other ties with Narendra Modi’s government amid growing concerns about China’s assertive behavior in the region, as well as Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The news sparked criticism from lawmakers and members of the public on social media, who said it was a lost opportunity to show leadership as Japan prepares to host the Group of Seven summit in May. Modi made a trip to Tokyo in September to attend the state funeral for former Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and held talks with current premier, Fumio Kishida.
Bolstering ties with India has been a priority for the Kishida government as it seeks partners beyond its sole treaty ally, the US, to counter security threats posed by the likes of China. The Quad is a prominent format for cooperation. It has grown in stature in recent years as a counter to Beijing, which has criticized the group as a “clique” that could stoke a new Cold War.
In addition, Japan and India in January held their first joint military air drills and Kishida’s government is making arrangements to invite Australia and India to the G-7 summit in May to discuss issues including Ukraine, nuclear disarmament and climate change, public broadcaster NHK reported.
“It’s a regrettable decision that means forfeiting a chance to emphasize the importance of the rule of law to the developing countries that take part in G-20,” Goshi Hosono, a ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker said on Twitter.
Hosono, who previously belonged to the opposition Democratic Party, added such decisions to prioritize parliament over diplomacy were often made to please the ruling parties. Hayashi had already arranged bilateral discussions with some of his counterparts on the sidelines of the meeting, Kyodo News reported.
The agency cited an unidentified Indian government official as saying the decision not to attend would be a negative for Japan’s foreign policy and give the mistaken impression that Tokyo values only the G-7.
Japan’s lower house of parliament is likely to pass the budget later Tuesday and hand it over for discussion in the upper house. All members of the cabinet are customarily present for the initial sessions of the budget committee, which are planned for Wednesday and Thursday.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by String Reveals staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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