G7 at the start, Meloni in Hiroshima between Ukraine and the ‘shadow’ of China

Bilateral with the Japanese premier Khishida, acceleration on semiconductors and the Silk Road node

Never could a location have been more apt, in years in which the winds of war have returned to blow in the heart of Europe and the nuclear threat. Hiroshima is hosting the G7 summit, where every corner – even those rebuilt and now polished to host the world’s ‘Big Ones’ – recalls the mad recourse to the atomic bomb which, on 6 August 1945, pulverized everything. Giorgia Meloni arrived in the night, after a long journey from Iceland to Reykjavik where the Council of Europe was held, she saw the Italian delegation forced to make a stopover in Alaska and then continue straight to Japan. “Happy” to be in Hiroshima, Meloni repeated in the bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Khishida – the only face-to-face meeting ‘officially’ on the agenda, even if it is not excluded that others and ‘important’ ones will arrive in the next few hours ( spotlight on Joe Biden)- forced to deal with jet lag, she jokes smiling with the ‘landlord’. Who, immediately after her, will also see the US president on the seventh floor of the Rihga Royal Hotel, in an armored Hiroshima like never before.

The Italian premier isonly woman among the ‘Big’ in the world, which then, in reality, lost the title of ‘Great’ for a while, given that the G7 today covers ‘only’ 31% of world GDP, of which about 50% attributable to the States. Before her – woman and mother, also in Japan with her daughter Ginevra to ‘shorten’ the distances in an agenda full of international commitments – only four women have sat at the table of the seven Greats of the planet: the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Canadian Kim Campbell and British Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. Meloni, the only female leader at the summit on the small island of Mojinamachi, therefore, with the aspiration of carving out a role, albeit complicated, as a protagonist.

In the bilateral agreement with Kushida – while Rushi Sunak’s United Kingdom announces an investment plan with Japan of 18 billion pounds, thanks to a strategic partnership on semiconductors – Meloni also tries to play his game, making it clear that Italy is ready to collaborate on any initiative that has its core business in the ‘chips’, a key sector and a dossier very dear to its predecessor, Mario Draghi as well. Not a simple declaration of intent from him: on 25 and 26 May a government delegation will fly to Tokyo precisely to address the semiconductor issue, Italian sources report. The same ones that, on the complicated chapter of the Silk Road – with Italy forced to dissolve the reserve by the end of the year, deciding whether to renew or exit the Memorandum of Understanding – they ensure that there is no urgent timing, nor pressure or embarrassment from the government for the position that sees Rome unique among the 7 ‘big’ to have signed the Belt and Road Initiative. The decision to stay or withdraw, it is pointed out, is up to Italy, yes to the government, but Parliament and Copasir will also have a say.

After all, when that acronym was put in black and white in a rain-soaked Villa Madama, it was spring 2019, Giuseppe Conte sat in Palazzo Chigi and that agreement was strongly desired, amid controversy and internal friction, by the then deputy prime minister M5S Luigi Di Maio. And in spite of the old adage that ‘ambassador does not bring pain’, Meloni today has the arduous task of untangling the skein, untangling the knot while keeping relations with the US firm, without however ’embittering’ Xi Jinping’s China .

Also because Meloni dreams of an Italy protagonist from now to the years to come, thanks to the strategic role that sees the Mediterranean as a ‘bridge’ between the oceans, a sea between the Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific from a geopolitical and economic point of view. In a G7 that takes its steps from here, with a Japan with which the agreement is complete (proof of this is the ‘promotion’ of the strategic partnership relations decided last January), Rome can aspire to shore up its positions. With the USA, where Meloni will fly in close circles, but also with the other leaders at the table, including French President Emmanuel Macron after new days of frost dividing Rome from Paris.

Among the topics on the agenda of the summit there is also the delicate one Taiwan dossier, with the warning ready to rise from the G7 so that it does not become the next Ukraine: Beijing’s angry reaction was not long in coming. The protagonist of the summit, however, will be Kiev and the war which almost a year and a half after that tragic February 24 shows no signs of stopping: President Volodymyr Zelensky will also take part in the work of the G7, probably remotely. The position of the 7 Greats of the earth is granite, firmly alongside Ukraine, where Italy has never been lacking. And again: security and economic coercion, health and the environment, the other issues on the table. AND nuclear disarmament, a dossier that could never be missing from the Hiroshima summit. (by the correspondent in Hiroshima Ileana Sciarra)