Japan’s leader in Kyiv to back Ukraine as China’s Xi visits Russia
March 21, 2023 Updated Tue., March 21, 2023 at 8:53 p.m.
TOKYO – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has arrived in Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, becoming the first post-war Japanese leader to visit an active war zone and the final leader of the Group of Seven advanced nations to make the trek to Ukraine’s capital to show support.
Kishida’s arrival, as reported by Japanese news outlets NHK and Kyodo, comes as Chinese leader Xi Jinping holds meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
It is Xi’s first visit to Russia since the invasion of Ukraine. On Tuesday, in another show of support for Moscow as a war crimes arrest warrant increasingly isolates the Russian leader, Xi also invited Putin to China for a visit.
Kishida was expected to meet with Zelenskyy on Tuesday and express Japan’s “solidarity and unwavering support for Ukraine,” the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement. As chair of the G-7 this year, Kishida will convey his respect for Ukrainians in “standing up to defend their homeland” under Zelenskyy’s leadership, the ministry said.
Kishida boarded a train in Poland on Tuesday, after departing India for a summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Japanese prime minister’s office had not previously announced the trip, but discussions and planning for a potential visit were underway since Zelenskyy invited Kishida in early January.
Since Russia’s invasion, Japan has joined Western powers in pressuring Moscow through sanctions and supporting Kyiv through aid. In May, Japan will host the G-7 summit in Hiroshima, where the leaders of the top economies are expected to demonstrate their unity in their response to Russia.
Last month, Japan pledged another $5.5 billion in humanitarian aid to Ukraine on top of the $600 million in financial support it had already provided to Kyiv since the invasion. Japan also has taken unprecedented steps to accept Ukrainian refugees, despite its long-standing refusal to open its doors to evacuees from conflict zones.
Kishida’s trip comes as Chinese leader Xi Jinping holds meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kishida plans to go to Poland on Wednesday and return to Japan on Thursday.
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