G20 summit gets Kansai kickoff / Data flow, marine plastics on agenda

The Yomiuri Shimbun

An aerial photo taken in May shows Intex Osaka in Osaka, the venue of the G20 summit talks.

The Japan NewsThe Group of 20 summit meeting opens Friday in Osaka. It is Japan’s first time to chair the meeting of leaders of the world’s advanced and emerging economies. In the two-day meeting, participants are set to discuss agenda items such as the global economy, the free flow of data and dealing with marine plastic waste. As leader of the host country, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plays an important role in coordinating arguments reflecting the views of the participants.

Eye on U.S.-China talks

With an eye to next year’s U.S. presidential election, U.S. President Donald Trump has stepped up his “America First” policy, intensifying trade friction with China and other countries.

The growing trade friction between the world’s two largest economies is casting a shadow over the global economy. A focus of attention at the summit is whether the G20 economies can develop a shared view of concerns about the adverse effects of the conflict and show a cooperative attitude toward supporting the economy. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to hold a meeting on the sidelines of the summit, drawing attention to whether they will succeed in easing tensions.

Prior to the summit, G20 finance ministers and central bank governors adopted a communique at their June 8-9 meeting in Fukuoka, saying that “trade and geopolitical tensions have intensified” without calling out the United States or China by name. The statement expressed their resolve, saying they “stand ready to take further action.”

Abe, who is close to Trump, is expected to play a coordinating role with countries that tend to oppose Trump.

Aiming for ‘Osaka Track’

“I would like Osaka G20 to be remembered as the summit that started worldwide data governance,” Abe said in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

Japan intends to propose the creation of the “Osaka Track,” a multilateral framework for discussing the creation of rules for the digital economy at the G20 summit meeting.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

Cross-border data exchange is gaining a foothold in international business and is considered a source of future economic growth. However, if personal information, intellectual property and national security secrets are not protected, the free flow of data will not progress.

At the G20 ministerial meeting on trade and the digital economy held in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, on June 8-9, participants agreed on the importance of “Data Free Flow with Trust.”

The United States, home to many IT companies, tends to leave decisions to the companies themselves. In contrast, the European Union, which attaches importance to protecting the privacy of individuals, is demanding that companies strictly protect personal information.

Participants are looking to find common ground, taking into account differences in views among the G20 members.

Japan promotes action plan

A large amount of plastic waste, such as plastic bottles and plastic bags, is flowing into the sea, affecting the ecosystem. How to reduce marine plastic waste, a major pollutant in the sea, was an important agenda item at the G20 Ministerial Meeting on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth, which was held in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, on June 15-16.

At the meeting, Japan proposed an international framework to implement an action plan to curb plastic waste, promote recycling and reduce the use of disposable plastic shopping bags, which was drawn up at the G20 summit meeting in Germany in 2017. Participants in the Karuizawa meeting agreed to meet each year to report on members’ results regarding the collection of plastic waste from the ocean and the proper management of such waste.

The Japanese government plans to hold the first such meeting in the country by the end of November, when its G20 presidency ends.Speech

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