Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who took office earlier this month, hoped to impress voters as he made his debut at a meeting of G8 and G20 leaders in Canada last weekend, but saw media play at home overshadowed by the World Cup and a scandal roiling Japan’s traditional sport of sumo.
Still, Kan did manage to claim one prize from his summit debut – lots of face-time with U.S. President Barack Obama. Kan’s predecessor Yukio Hatoyama quit after just eight months in office in part because he botched up relations with Japan’s biggest ally over the relocation of a U.S. military base on Okinawa. So brief chats with Obama in between sessions, including one on Obama’s love for green tea ice cream, and a full, 30-minute meeting with the U.S. President at the end of his trip should comfort voters. An improvement from a mere 10 minutes Hatoyama was allotted when he met Obama at a nuclear safety summit in April.
Media were super-alert for Kan’s interaction with other leaders, too. Kan appeared at ease as he talked to Russian Presdient Dmitry Medvedev on their way to an outdoor G8 leaders’ “family photo”. But after the photo, Kan was left standing outside a circle formed by other leaders as they chatted and laughed. “Go, elbow yourself in!” reporters cheered on as they watched footage broadcast into the media centre. But by the time Kan squeezed himself in, leaders had started to disperse and move on.
Attacks on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the British press have hit an especially raw nerve as he hosts this year’s G8 summit and some Italian newspapers have had enough.
The summit has come at a particularly sensitive time for the beleaguered Italian leader, who has been dogged for weeks by salacious scandals involving allegations he has a soft spot for underage women and has entertained escort girls.
G8 leaders are debating the interconnected themes of climate change, food and fuel. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for less food waste in the rich world. The World Bank has said rising food prices threaten 30 million Africans with poverty. VIP menus at the G8 summit in Japan have been lavish – hairy crab, asparagus, lamb, all manner of vegetables and wild leaves. And of course regional sake rice wine. Newspapers printed the menu in full. Britain’s The Guardian heaped scorn: “the most powerful bellies in the world were last night compelled to stave off the Hokkaido Hunger by fortifying themselves with an eight-course, 19-dish dinner prepared by 25 chefs.” Is it fair criticism?