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Japan urges G-7 to avert another economic crisis

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a press conference after a bilateral meeting during the 2016 Ise-Shima G7 Summit in Shima, Japan May 25, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria


Ise, Japan / AP

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is urging fellow leaders of the Group of Seven advanced economies to avert another global crisis by acting to rescue the faltering global recovery.
Abe and his counterparts got down to business on Thursday after strolling through the grounds of Ise (Ee-say) Shrine, a tranquil, densely forested landmark that is considered the holiest site in Japan’s indigenous Shinto religion, and then joining a group of children in a tree planting ceremony.
After the first few sessions of summit meetings, US President Barack Obama backed Abe’s call.
“We’ve all got a lot of work to do and we agreed to continue to focus on making sure that each country, based on its particular needs and capacities, is taking steps to accelerate growth,” Obama said.
He said it was crucial not just to put people back to work but also raise wages and maintain the momentum of the recovery.
During the talks, Abe compared the current global economic situation to conditions just before the 2008 financial crisis.
A G-7 summit held in northern Japan paid little attention to the trouble that was brewing, Abe said.
Reporters were shown charts Abe had on hand to illustrate the severity of the recent slump in commodity prices and the economic slowdown in China. “We learned a lesson that we failed to respond properly because we did not have a firm recognition of the risks,” Abe told reporters. “This time, we had a thorough discussion and recognized the major risks facing the global economy.”
The G-7 gathering dovetails in many ways with Abe’s long-term diplomatic, political and economic agenda. A dramatic statement about global economic risks and a strong show of support for public spending to help spur growth could help Abe justify extra stimulus and possibly provide political cover for postponing an unpopular but badly needed increase in Japan’s sales tax next April.
The leaders were expected to turn their attention to trade, politics and diplomacy, and to climate change and energy during talks later Thursday.
The annual summit brings together the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

N Korea is a ‘big worry
for all of us’, says Obama

Ise-Shima, Japan / AFP

US President Barack Obama took aim at North Korea Thursday, calling it a “big worry” after a meeting with his G7 counterparts, as tensions escalate following Pyongyang’s series of nuclear tests.
Obama made the remark at a briefing on the sidelines of Group of Seven talks in Japan where North Korea’s provocations and its nuclear ambitions are among the topics on a packed agenda. “North Korea is a big worry for all of us,” Obama said.
“It is not the thing that poses necessarily the most immediate risk. (But) when you have such an unstable regime that is so isolated, that poses the kind of medium-term threat that we have to pay a lot of attention to.”
Tensions between North and South Korea have been running high since Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test in January.
In recent weeks, the North has made repeated proposals for military talks aimed at de-escalating the situation—but the South has dismissed the offer as an “insincere” propaganda ploy.
The current administration of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye is adamant that substantive inter-Korean talks can only begin once the North makes a tangible commitment to denuclearisation.

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