KYIV, Ukraine – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida began a surprise visit to Ukraine on Tuesday morning, hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping has arrived in neighboring Russia for a three-day visit. The dueling summits come as the long-time rivals are on diplomatic offensives.
Kishida will meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Ukrainian capital.
During his visit, he will “show respect for the courage and patience of the Ukrainian people who stand up to defend their homeland under the leadership of President Zelenskyy, and show solidarity and unwavering support for Ukraine as “and head of Japan and president of the G-7”. in Ukraine, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said announcing his trip to Kiev.
At the talks, Kishida will show his “absolute rejection of Russia’s unilateral change to the status quo through invasion and force, and to affirm his commitment to defend the rules-based international order,” the statement of the ministry said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warmly welcomed Xi to the Kremlin in a visit the two nations described as an opportunity to deepen their “boundless friendship”.
Japanese public television channel NTV showed Kishida on a train from Poland heading to Kiev. His surprise trip to Ukraine comes just hours after he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, and the week after a groundbreaking summit with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yoel.
In New Delhi, Kishida called on developing countries and the Global South to raise their voices to defend the rules-based international order and help stop Russia’s war.
Japan, which has territorial disputes over the islands with China and Russia, is particularly concerned about the close relationship between Beijing and Moscow, which have conducted joint military exercises near Japan’s coast.
Kishida, who will chair the Group of Seven summit in May, is the only G-7 leader who has not visited Ukraine and was under pressure to do so at home. US President Joe Biden took a similar route to visit Kiev last month, just before the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Due to the limitations of Japan’s pacifist constitution, his trip was organized in secret. Kishida is Japan’s first post-war leader to enter a war zone. Kishida, invited by Zelenskyy in January to visit Kiev, was also asked before his trip to India about a rumor about his possible trip at the end of March, he denied and said that nothing concrete has been decided
Japan has joined the United States and European nations in sanctioning Russia for its invasion and providing humanitarian and economic support for Ukraine.
Japan has been quick to react because it fears the possible impact of a war in East Asia, where the Chinese military has become increasingly assertive and has increased tensions around Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory. .
Kishida is expected to offer continued support to Ukraine when he meets with Zelenskyy.
Television footage on NTV showed Kishida on a train from the Polish station of Przemysl near the border with Ukraine, along with a number of officials.
Due to its pacifist principles, Japan’s support for Ukraine has also been limited to non-combat military equipment such as helmets, bulletproof vests and drones, and humanitarian supplies including generators.
Japan has contributed more than $7 billion to Ukraine, and accepted more than 2,000 displaced Ukrainians and helped him with housing assistance and support for jobs and education, a rare move in a country known for its strict immigration policy.