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6 Jul, 2008 23:07

Green G8 summit gets underway in Japan

World leaders are on the Japanese island of Hokkaido for arguably the most ecologically-friendly G8 summit. Green issues will feature strongly at the three-day gathering along with other international headaches, such as global food and fuel prices.

U.S. President George W. Bush was the first to hold a meeting with Japan's Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda, after landing early on Sunday. For him, it's not only the first day of his final G8 Summit, but also his sixty-second birthday.

Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev has also arrived in Hokkaido for his first G8 summit as the country’s leader.

Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters have marched through Sapporo on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan on Sunday. The morning protest took place alongside a heavy police presence and ended peacefully.

The rallies follow a demonstration by about 2,500 on Saturday that lead to a brief clash with police in which four people including a television cameraman were detained.

Green summit

'Cool Earth – Cool Summit' is one of the mottoes of the G8 in Hokkaido, which starts on Monday. The environment in general and climate change in particular will be high on the agenda during the three-day meeting.

In the near future Japan wants to have a low-carbon society. Japan has been hugely innovative in the area of green technology. At this summit the country is eager to become a driving force behind environmental initiatives.

Although Japan is putting the environment at the top of the agenda, different topics are likely to grab centre stage. As anti-G8 protesters gather in Japan, they're demanding action on other issues.

“The G8 leaders, instead of having a good time in the beautiful resort area of Toyako, should be taking responsibility for the promises that they made to Africa. They should be taking responsibility for the food crisis and climate change,” says Takumo Yamada from Oxfam Japan.

Last year in Germany world leaders declared that the global economy was in good health. Since then it's seen dramatic changes, including the financial crisis with its epicentre in the U.S., the doubling of oil prices and a major food crisis.

However, the summit is unlikely to change things drastically. The G8 never comes up with binding agreements, as it's more about informal meetings and frank discussions.

The summit will be held on July 7-9 at the Windsor Hotel in the town of Toyako on the shore of Lake Toya.