London, Jul 6: When the Group of Eight leaders and their counterparts from India, China, South Africa and Brazil gather in the Japanese resort towns of Sapporo and Hokkaido from Monday, July 7, they will be tasked with the responsibility of formulating exacting guidelines for dealing with a host of global problems, including rising food and oil costs, an uncertain global economy, climate change and Zimbabwe's political crisis.
Protesters have already started gathering ahead of the three-day forum starting on Monday, July 7. The Group of Eight (G8) consists of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States. China, India and South Africa will be among other key nations attending. Japan has spent a record sum of money and deployed about 20,000 police to seal off the summit venue at the remote lakeside resort of Toyako.
The BBC reported on Sunday that several thousand demonstrators marched through Sapporo, the city closest to the venue, on Saturday, demanding that G-8 leaders take action on global warming, poverty and rising food prices. Four people were arrested in minor scuffles with police.
Last year, Japanese officials said this summit would be about climate change and reaching agreement on a post-Kyoto Accord framework to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
There are, however, a range of other concerns among the G-8 protesters
Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda had said he would like to get agreement on 50 percent overall reductions in greenhouse gases by 2050.
The rising food and oil prices and their effect on the global economy and the world's poorest nations have moved up the agenda and to address them.
The Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, reported that the G-8 countries wanted to create a system of food reserves that would act to stabilise prices.
Another key issue will be North Korea's nuclear programme.
U.S. President George W. Bush will meet Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda amid Japanese concern that North Korea's recent declaration of its nuclear activities has led Washington to signal removing Pyongyang from a terror blacklist.
South African President Thabo Mbeki will attend, fresh from crisis discussions in Zimbabwe on Saturday with President Robert Mugabe about last month's disputed election.
He has been the chief regional negotiator on the Zimbabwe crisis, and has been trying to persuade Mugabe to form a government of national unity.
The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, pulled out of last month's second round presidential election vote, citing campaign violence.
The U.S. is expected to strongly condemn Mugabe's recent actions to stay in power.