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Will Japan miss key Quad gathering in New Delhi this week?

The Quad Foreign Ministers' meeting will take place in New Delhi on March 3 (File image courtesy: External Affairs Ministry)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken kicked off a significant visit to Central Asia and Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong to Malaysia before arriving in New Delhi midweek for the crucial G20 and Quad Foreign Ministers’ meeting. However, the participation of Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi in both meetings remains uncertain as of now.

It is being reported by the Japanese media that Hayashi is considering skipping the India trip because the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has requested that ongoing deliberations on the 2023 budget bill in the National parliament, the Diet, should take precedence.

Even though the Japanese Foreign Ministry has till Monday evening not announce any decision, the move has generated a lot of debate in Tokyo, with some suggesting that Hayashi’s absence from the meetings scheduled to be held in the Indian capital could lead to a “decline in Japan’s diplomatic power” in the face of current geopolitical churning taking place due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

In an editorial titled ‘Diet should respond to ministers’ overseas trips in line with national interests’ on Monday, Nikkei said that even though the budget proposal is one of the most important issues – and that LDP may want to be careful to avoid criticism from the opposition parties – it is necessary to respond flexibly in consideration of national interests.

The leading Japanese publication said that since Japan will serve as the chair of the Group of Seven (G7) this year, the G20 meeting is a “valuable opportunity” for Japan to fulfill its responsibilities as the chair and reflect its own views.

“On the 3rd, a ‘Quad’ Foreign Ministers’ meeting will be held in India, consisting of Japan, the United States, Australia, and India. It is a framework that the United States attaches importance to as a deterrent to China, and it is desirable for Japan to participate face-to-face,” it stated.

The Quad meeting between the Foreign Ministers of India, the United States, Japan, and Australia will be immediately followed by a ministerial panel discussion at India’s annual premier conference on geopolitics and geoeconomics, the Raisina Dialogue.

“I’m not aware that they’ve ever had an hour-long public event where the four foreign ministers have had a chance to talk about the Quad, and to demonstrate how it is getting tangible and concrete things done in the Indo-Pacific,” US State Department’s Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu said last week.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar (Image courtesy: Twitter/@DrSJaishankar)

Wong too said on Monday that she is looking forward to her first visit to India as Foreign Minister as Australia strongly supports India’s G20 Presidency and welcomes India’s ambitious, action-oriented G20 agenda, under the theme ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’.

“This year is an important milestone in Australia’s bilateral relationship with India, with many high-level Ministerial visits between our two countries,” said the Australian Foreign Minister highlighting Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s forthcoming visit to New Delhi next month.

Later this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also attend the Quad Leaders’ meeting in Australia.

Also Read: All eyes on G20 meeting in New Delhi as Blinken confirms participation after Russia’s Lavrov