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Japan's Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa Alamy Stock Photo
War in Ukraine

Japanese foreign minister pledges support for Ukraine during surprise visit to Kyiv

Her visit came during escalating attacks by both sides in the conflict.

JAPANESE FOREIGN MINISTER Yoko Kamikawa paid a surprise visit to Kyiv today where she said Tokyo was “determined” to keep supporting Ukraine, as the second anniversary of Moscow’s invasion nears.

Kamikawa, the first high-level foreign official to visit Kyiv this year, announced new deliveries of defence equipment and discussed Tokyo’s plans to host a February conference to promote Ukraine’s economic reconstruction.

“Japan is determined to support Ukraine so that peace can return to Ukraine,” Kamikawa told a press conference with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba held in a bomb shelter as an air raid siren rang out.

“I can feel how tense the situation in Ukraine is now.”

Her visit came during escalating attacks by both sides in the conflict.

“I once again strongly condemn Russia’s missile and drone attacks, particularly on New Year’s Day,” said Kamikawa.

She said Tokyo would “allocate” $37 million to provide Ukraine with a drone detection system. It will also supply five generators to help Ukraine “survive” another winter.

Kamikawa visited the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where Russian forces are blamed for a 2022 massacre of civilians, saying she was “shocked” by what she saw. She also went to Irpin, a past scene of heavy fighting.

‘Comprehensive support’ 

Her unannounced visit is part of a two-week tour starting Friday that was planned to take in Poland, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, Germany and Turkey.

Kuleba said Kyiv was thankful for Japan’s decision last year to provide Ukraine with F-16s jets, but said the country also needed air defence systems.

“Every day, Ukrainian cities are destroyed by Russian missiles and drones. They cannot capture us, so they are trying to destroy us,” he said.

Kuleba said the two also discussed “threats from North Korea”, and he expressed “solidarity” after the recent earthquake in Japan.

Kamikawa later met with President Volodymyr Zelensky, who thanked Tokyo for its security, economic and humanitarian “assistance” to Kyiv.

“Japan is our very important and strong partner,” Zelensky said on social media.

Ukraine’s prime minister Denys Shmygal also hailed a “meaningful meeting” with Kamikawa, thanking Japan for its “comprehensive support”, including humanitarian and financial assistance.

In a Telegram message, he applauded Japan for its “decision to allocate $1 billion for humanitarian projects and reconstruction, with a readiness to increase this amount to $4.5 billion through the mechanisms of international institutions.”

He said the meeting also covered the Ukrainian president’s conditions for peace, the implementation of reforms, and joint cooperation on infrastructure projects.

Shmygal said Kyiv and Tokyo are also strengthening trade relations.

“We have already held meetings with two business delegations from Japan and are interested in locating production facilities of leading Japanese companies in Ukraine,” he added.

- © AFP 2024