Japan, Technically Still at War with Russia, Goes All-In on Ukraine
( Breitbart )
Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said on Monday that he will invite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to participate in the Group of Seven (G-7) online summit, which begins on Friday.
Kishida’s government said on Wednesday that it will guarantee a loan for $5.5 billion to Ukraine from the World Bank, fulfilling Kishida’s pledge of financial assistance for “people who were robbed of their daily lives by the war.” Kishida topped off this bout of all-in support for Ukraine by proposing that he might visit Kyiv soon.
Some Japanese government officials sought to qualify Kishida’s talk of visiting Kyiv in the very near future by telling reporters such a trip would be largely symbolic and not truly necessary – but Zelensky invited Kishida to visit Ukraine in January, and the Japanese leader is reportedly serious about wanting to accept that invitation. In fact, since he is the only G-7 leader who has not been to Ukraine yet, he had hoped to make the trip before the summit on Friday.
The Japanese Defense Ministry on Wednesday pointed out a major obstacle to Kishida visiting the Ukrainian war zone: Japan’s pacifist constitution technically does not allow the Self-Defense Forces to provide military protection for traveling dignitaries, even the prime minister.
Also, the Japanese parliament is currently debating the fiscal 2023 budget and it could demand an appearance from Kishida at any time, or even deny him permission to visit Ukraine. Under the Japanese system, there is no way for Kishida to keep a visit to Kyiv under wraps until the last minute, as U.S. President Joe Biden did on Monday.
Kishida may have to settle for expressing his support for Ukraine by bringing Zelensky into the G-7 online summit on Friday, which happens to be the first anniversary of the Russian invasion. Kishida will host the summit from the town he represented as a member of the Diet, which happens to be Hiroshima.
The G-7 nations will discuss their concerns about Russia, which Japan is still technically at war with. The two nations never formally concluded World War II, in part due to some lingering territorial issues. Japan once again brought up the disputed Northern Territories (which Russia calls the Kuril Islands) immediately after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Japan, Sergiy Korsunsky, hinted last week that Zelensky might visit Hiroshima for the in-person G-7 summit scheduled in May.
Korsunsky told Japan’s Mainichi that an in-person visit would be difficult to arrange, but Zelensky thinks it might be worthwhile because he wants to show his appreciation for Tokyo’s support, and because Hiroshima seems like an ideal venue to discuss Ukraine’s concerns about Russia potentially resorting to nuclear weapons.
The ambassador encouraged Kishida to visit Ukraine in turn, to “see with his own eyes what has happened.” He pledged that Kyiv would do “everything in its power” to ensure his safety.
Japan announced on Wednesday it will guarantee a $5 billion World Bank loan to Ukraine, with an offer to step in and make the payments if Kyiv cannot. Tokyo added half a billion dollars in financial support on top of the loan.
Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suziki said he would “share information about how each G-7 member will provide aid while explaining Japan’s stance” at a meeting of G-7 finance ministers and central bank governors in India on Wednesday.