With Xi in Russia, Japan PM Makes Surprise Trip to Ukraine

To hold talks with Zelensky, as Chinese leader meets with Putin
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 21, 2023 12:43 AM CDT
Japan PM Makes Surprise Trip to Ukraine
In this image made from video provided by Japan's NTV, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida gets on train in Przemysl, Poland, early Tuesday, March 21, 2023, heading to Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.   (NTV via AP)

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was heading to Kyiv early Tuesday for talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that coincide with Chinese leader Xi Jinping's visit to Russia, the AP reports. Kishida will “show respect to the courage and patience of the Ukrainian people who are standing up to defend their homeland under President Zelensky's leadership, and show solidarity and unwavering support for Ukraine as head of Japan and chairman of G-7,” during his visit to Ukraine, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in announcing his trip to Kyiv. At the talks, Kishida will show his “absolute rejection to Russia's one-sided change to the status quo by invasion and force, and to affirm his commitment to defend the rules-based international order,” the ministry's statement said.

Japan’s public television NHK showed Kishida riding a train from Poland heading to Kyiv. His surprise trip to Ukraine comes just hours after he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. Kishida, who is to chair the Group of Seven summit in May, is the only G-7 leader who hasn’t visited Ukraine and was under pressure to do so at home. Due to limitations of Japan's pacifist constitution, his trip was arranged secretly. Kishida is Japan's first postwar leader to enter a war zone. Kishida, invited by Zelensky in January to visit Kyiv, was also asked before his trip to India about a rumor of his possible trip at the end of March, denied it and said nothing concrete has been decided.

Japan has joined the United States and European nations in sanctioning Russia over its invasion and providing humanitarian and economic support for Ukraine. Japan was quick to react because it fears the possible impact of a war in East Asia, where China’s military has grown increasingly assertive and has escalated tensions around self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory. Kishida is expected to offer continuing support for Ukraine when he meets with Zelensky. Jinping, meanwhile, was warmly welcomed to the Kremlin by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

(More Japan stories.)

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