Japan PM Kishida Surprise trip to Ukraine for Meeting with Ukraine Prez Zelensky

Fumio Kishida

New Delhi: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is en route to Ukraine to hold a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Kishida is the only G7 leader who did not visit Ukraine and left for Kyiv on Tuesday to hold meetings with his Ukrainian counterpart.

According to a report by the Associated Press, the Japanese Prime Minister was seen taking a train from Poland’s Warsaw which was headed towards the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

His visit to Kyiv comes a day after his India visit where he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and held discussions related to India-Japan bilateral ties and their vision for the Indo-Pacific.

The Associated Press report also said that Kishida was facing internal pressure from political parties in Japan regarding not visiting Kyiv.

Japan has imposed similar sanctions on Russia and followed the path taken by its western allies barring a few investments, like the Sakhalin energy projects.

During his visit, Kishida is expected to convey to Zelensky that Japan stands in solidarity with Ukraine and will offer continuing support for Ukraine.

The report by Associated Press also said that Kishida is the first Japanese postwar leader to enter an active war zone. Kishida denied speculations of a possible trip to Kyiv towards the end of March but on Tuesday he was seen boarding the train from Warsaw, Japanese news agency NHK reported.

Due to Japan’s pacifist principles, its support for Ukraine has been limited to non-combative military equipment. It has sent helmets, bulletproof vests and drones, and humanitarian supplies including generators to Kyiv but no weapons.

Fumio Kishida

It has contributed more than $7 billion to Ukraine and has accepted 2,000 displaced Ukrainians and supported them by providing housing assistance and support for jobs and education. Japan made these rare moves despite being known for being a country having a strict immigration policy.

Japan has supported Ukraine due to growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea and its desire to exert control over the Indo-Pacific.

Japan also voiced its opposition towards China’s efforts to reunite self-ruled Taiwan with the “motherland” and fears a situation similar to that of Ukraine could evolve in the region, destabilizing peace and regional and global economy.