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John Kirton, Director, G8 Research Group
9 July 2008
As the G8 chair, Japan’s Fukuda proved to be a genuinely global leader, putting in a performance worthy of a full A grade of 85%. Much like Prime Minister Mori in 2000, the last time Japan hosted, Fukuda arrived late as prime minister, had little experience in international affairs, no experience at all at a G8 summit and inherited a design for a leaders-driven summit constructed by someone else. On the road to Toyako, he also suffered from losing control of his legislature’s upper house and from plunging popularity at home. But he proceeded with a high-risk summit, held hostage on its central climate issue as to whether China and Korea — hardly Japan’s most trusted partners historically — would come through for Fukuda on the summit’s final day.
They did, making Fukuda’s great gamble pay off, as it had for Canada’s Jean Chrétien on Africa in 2002. Fukuda thus showed himself to be a leader in moving the world forward on this genuinely global issue. He expanded his leadership in Asia by having China, Korea, Indonesia, Australia and more distant Asia follow the path he paved. He extended his leadership in Africa through TICAD-iv, then the African outreach on the summit’s opening day and finally by delivering much for Africa on health, food security, compliance monitoring and the breaking crisis in Zimbabwe here democracy and human life were critically at stake.
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