Suga joins G7 talks for first time as PM

NHK -- Feb 20
Japan's Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has expressed to the Group of Seven industrialized nations his determination to hold the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer.

The leaders held a teleconference on Friday just after 11 p.m. Friday Japan time. It was the first G7 meeting to include Suga, US President Joe Biden and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

On the coronavirus pandemic, Suga said he has had an unwavering resolve to protect the lives and livelihoods of the people since assuming his post in September.

He said much has been learned from last year, and that he has implemented what he believes to be the best measures.

Suga said vaccines will be the key to containing infections, adding that fair access in developing countries will be essential.

He called on the G7 to speed up the distribution of vaccines and oppose a protectionist approach to health issues.

He also pledged to increase Japan's contribution to a global framework for purchasing vaccines to 200 million dollars.

Suga said the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics can serve as proof that mankind has overcome the coronavirus.

He said he will work with the International Olympic Committee to realize a safe Games. He called on the other countries for support.

He also said he was reassured by the support of the other leaders.

Suga expressed concern about China's unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China seas. He said Japan will say what needs to be said, and demand action from Beijing.

After the meeting, Suga told reporters that the discussions were mainly on measures to tackle the pandemic. He said his explanation about Japan's situation was well received.

Suga said his first G7 meeting was extremely significant because the leaders share universal values on a range of issues, including the post-pandemic world.