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The G7’s 49th Summit in Japan

Author: Gerhard van Niekerk

The Group of 7 (G7) will commence their 49th annual summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on the 19th of May 2023. The G7 is a multilateral forum established in 1975 with member states including some of the world’s most influential powers, namely France, the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada (in order of rotating presidency), and the European Union (EU), a ‘non-enumerated member’ with no hosting rights, but all other privileges and obligations as other member states.[1]

The G7’s annual summits are attended by all members’ heads of state where global issues are discussed, and plans devised to reach solutions. In today’s context, the issues discussed by these states typically fall within the themes of trade, climate change, and security. Several ad hoc ministerial-level meetings are held before each annual summit in which the member states’ ministries apply their collective expertise to the relevant topics to reach consensus and set the agenda for the primary meetings. The two main themes of this year’s summit centre around maintaining a rules-based international order while also increasing efforts to reach out to the Global South.[2]

Besides the G7’s permanent membership, each summit is attended by a selection of invitees, invited by the host state, who are targeted for their roles they could play in their regions to effect the desired changes in the global system. In 2000, as host of the Okinawa-Kyushu Summit, Japan initiated this practice in the G7 when it extended an invitation to three African leaders – the heads of state of South Africa, Algeria and Nigeria – to represent the African continent as well as the wider Global South.[3] This ‘outreach’ became a regular feature of subsequent Summits, although the invitees have varied over time. As participant of last year’s G7 Summit hosted by Germany, South Africa stated that its objective was to work towards the ‘global common good’. This was to be achieved through cooperation with partners within the frameworks of the United Nations (UN) and the Group of 20 (G20) which promote a rules-based multilateral system within the international arena.[4]

South Africa has notably been left out of this year’s summit. This is in light of the Japanese government’s decision to have the African Union represent the continent, rather than a handful of African states. As current chair of the AU, President of Comoros, Azali Assoumani will be in attendance. 5

The G7 Hiroshima Summit will address several critical issues affecting the global community, including the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which has challenged the foundation of the international order. In addition, the G7 will discuss several issues regarding international security, reaffirm multilateral cooperation on the Free and Open Indo-Pacific, and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. Economic resilience and security will also be addressed with a focus on resilient supply chains, non-market policies and practices, and countering economic coercion. Climate and energy issues, food security, health, and development will also be on the agenda. Furthermore, the G7 aims to contribute to achieving more resilient, equitable, and sustainable universal health coverage and promote health innovation to address various global health challenges. It also aims to address structural vulnerabilities in the global food system while promoting development and human security for vulnerable people left behind in crisis.6


[1] For detail on the G7 2023 Hiroshima Summit and background on prior Summits, see the official Summit page at

[2] The Press and Information Office of the Federal Government. (n.d.). ‘Meetings of the G7 ministers G7 Germany.’ Accessed online on 14 May 2023 at:

[3] See discussion in Cornelissen, S. (2012). ‘Selling Africa: Japan’s G8 politics and its Africa diplomacy,’ Global Governance, 18: 461-470.

[4] The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa. (2022). ‘President Ramaphosa to participate in the G7 Summit in Germany.’ Accessed online on 4 May at: Available at:

5 News24. (2023). ‘Japan invites African Union to G7,excludes South Africa.’ Accessed online on 4 May 2023 at:

6 Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan. (n.d.).‘Summit Information: Issues.’ Accessed online on 14 May 2023 at: