The annual G7 diplomatic summit has concluded amidst escalating protests and calls for peace. The three-day gathering, held in Hiroshima this year and attended by leaders from the United States, Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, Japan, and others, focused on various issues, but the spotlight fell on the rising tensions with Russia and China. As demonstrators flooded the streets of Hiroshima, their message was clear: no war.

Protesters, both local and international, gathered in Fukuromachi Park, holding placards and banners with slogans such as “No War-themed Conference,” “Hands off on Ukraine,” and “No to Japan-US military alliance.” Their presence highlighted the sensitivity of holding such a summit in Hiroshima, a city that had suffered from the devastating US atomic bombing during World War II. The demonstrators criticized the G7 leaders for disregarding the views of local residents by convening the summit in Hiroshima.

The protesters chanted slogans like “No to War” and “Smash the G7 Hiroshima Summit” as they marched through the streets of Hiroshima. Confrontations with riot police officers occurred, resulting in arrests. “The Japan-U.S. leaders’ talk on Thursday will eventually lead to upgrades of the military alliance between the two countries in East Asia,” said Ryo Miyahara, a community organizer, emphasizing that the summit was never peaceful.

While the G7 leaders vowed to support Ukraine in the face of Russia’s occupation, their decision to escalate sanctions against Russia drew criticism. The United States, taking the lead, announced specific measures to sanction Russia even before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s in-person visit. In a display of further military aid, US President Joe Biden declared a new package worth $375 million for Ukraine. These actions have intensified tensions between the G7 and Russia, raising concerns about the potential consequences of such measures.

Russia wasn’t the only target of the G7. On Saturday they put out an aggressive communique that highlighted China as a troublemaker without explicitly naming it. Japanese scholar Kazuteru Saionji pointed out the hypocrisy of demanding China adhere to international rules while the US and their G7 partners have regularly been major rule-breakers on the world stage. While he did not mention specific instances, one only needs to throw a dart at a map to find examples.

Amidst the turmoil surrounding the G7 summit, there are broader geopolitical dynamics at play. The emergence of large developing countries, exemplified by the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), has challenged the traditional dominance of the North Atlantic states. These countries, along with other nations, have established their own development agendas and have been instrumental in shaping the next generation of technology. Additionally, regional trade and development projects outside the control of Western states have further signaled the emergence of a new international economic order. Speaking to Xinhua News about the protests, Saionji said this about Japan’s invitation of the Global South to the summit, “I believe the major developing countries will not act according to the United States. They hope for world peace and stability,”

The decline of the North Atlantic states, particularly the United States, has been a driving force behind their increasingly assertive foreign policy. The U.S., feeling the effects of military, financial, and economic overreach, has launched a comprehensive pressure campaign against its perceived rivals, particularly China and Russia. This aggressive approach, encompassing trade wars, unilateral sanctions, and military operations, has contributed to what is now commonly referred to as the New Cold War. Atsushi Koketsu, emeritus professor at Yamaguchi University of Japan, said that with the international community moving toward pluralism, the G7 should take note.

In this context, information warfare has become a significant element of the New Cold War. Attempts to engage in rational discussions about China, Russia, and the changing world order are often dismissed as disinformation or propaganda. The rise in Sinophobia, anti-Asian racism, and historical amnesia in Western states, fueled by political leaders, has further hindered genuine engagement with other perspectives and hindered person-to-person, let alone cross-country, dialogue. The breakdown of communication channels between China, Russia, the Global South, and the West, has exacerbated the challenges of fostering understanding and cooperation. Placing this year’s summit in Hiroshima while actively ramping up the potential for nuclear conflict was just one of such exacerbations.