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Full list of countries in the group, schedule and why it’s happening in Japan

Leaders of seven of the world’s most powerful democracies will gather this weekend for the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan – the location of the world’s first atomic attack at the end of the Second World War.

As attendees made their way to Hiroshima on Thursday, Russia unleashed yet another aerial attack on the Ukrainian capital. Loud explosions thundered through Kyiv during the early hours, marking the ninth time this month that Russian air raids have targeted the city after weeks of relative quiet.

“The crisis in Ukraine – I’m sure that’s what the conversation is going to start with,” said Matthew P Goodman, senior vice president for economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Jake Sullivan, the White House National Security Adviser, said there will be “discussions about the battlefield” in Ukraine and on the “state of play on sanctions and the steps that the G7 will collectively commit to on enforcement in particular”.

G7 leaders and invited guests are also expected to discuss how to deal with China‘s growing assertiveness and military buildup as concerns rise that it could could try to seize Taiwan by force, causing a wider conflict.

What is the G7 Summit?

The G7 stands for the Group of Seven, and is made up of the world’s largest so-called advanced economies.

The seven nations are:

  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Japan

The group was formed in March 1973 and was initially known as the “Library Group”, due to the first meeting – which included just the US, UK, France and West Germany – being held in the library of the White House.

Japan was added later that year, forming the “Group of Five”, before Italy joined in 1975 and Canada was added the following year. Russia was added to form the G8 in 1998, but was excluded in 2014 after it invaded Crimea.

China and India have never been part of the group despite being two of the world’s largest and most important nations. However, they are part of a wider G20, which also includes Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa.

The European Union has participated fully in the G7 since 1981 as a “non-enumerated” member.

At the G7 summit, leaders discuss a wide range of issues, including economic policy, security, climate change and energy.

What’s on the agenda this year?

G7 leaders are expected to strongly condemn Russia’s war on Ukraine while pledging their continuing support for Ukraine. Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, will join the session via the internet.

There will also be a focus on Beijing’s escalating threats against Taiwan, the self-governing democratic island Beijing claims as its own, and ways to reduce Western democracies’ economic and supply-chain dependency on China.

To address the rise of so-called Global South nations, including many former colonies of Western powers with varied views on and ties to Russia and China, the G7 will offer these countries more support in health, food security and infrastructure to develop closer ties.

This year, the leaders of Australia, Brazil, Comoros, Cook Islands, India, Indonesia, South Korea and Vietnam are invited to the summit as Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, stresses the importance of reaching out to developing countries in the Global South and US allies and partners.

The invitations to leaders outside the G7 are meant to extend co-operation to a broader range of countries.

The G7 countries’ share of global economic activity has shrunk to about 30 per cent from roughly 50 per cent four decades ago. Developing economies such as China, India and Brazil have made huge gains, raising questions about the G7’s relevance and its role in leading a world economy that’s increasingly reliant on growth in less wealthy nations.

Leaders of the United Nations, the International Energy Agency, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation and the World Trade Organisation are also invited.

Why is the G7 Summit in Hiroshima?

Hiroshima is Mr Kishida’s hometown. His choice of venue underscores a determination to put nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation at the top of the agenda for this year’s summit.

A path to nuclear disarmament has appeared more difficult with Russia’s recent nuclear weapon threats in Ukraine, as well as nuclear and missile development by China and North Korea.

Japan, which is protected by the US nuclear umbrella, has also faced criticism that its nuclear disarmament pledge is an empty promise. Mr Kishida is trying to forge a realistic roadmap between the current harsh reality and the ideal of a world without nuclear weapons.

On Friday, he will welcome arriving leaders at the Hiroshima Peace Park. He also plans to escort the leaders to the A-bomb museum, in the first group visit by heads of nuclear states. There might also be a meeting with atomic bomb survivors.

“I believe the first step toward any nuclear disarmament effort is to provide a first-hand experience of the consequences of the atomic bombing and to firmly convey the reality,” Mr Kishida said on Saturday during a visit to Hiroshima to observe summit preparations.

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