On Mar. 21, following Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida paid his own visit to war-torn Ukraine, in what seems to be “a show of solidarity” by the former, VOA reported. The two Asian powers’ visits seem to have solidified their places within the military crisis surrounding Ukraine.
Prime Minister Kishida visited the battered town of Bucha, where more than 400 civilians were killed last year in the brutal conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
“The world was astonished to see innocent civilians in Bucha killed one year ago. I really feel great anger at the atrocity upon visiting that very place here,” Kishida said. He placed a wreath outside one of the town’s churches before a moment of respect was held for the fallen.
“I would like to give condolences to all the victims and the wounded on behalf of the Japanese nationals,” he added. “Japan will keep aiding Ukraine with the greatest effort to regain peace.”
Japan is the latest nation to visit Ukraine since Russia began its “special operations” against Ukraine. Tokyo has pledged its support for Ukraine and joined in the sanctions against Russia. Following this visit, Russia responded by sending two strategic bomber planes to fly over the Sea of Japan for more than seven hours, Moscow’s defense ministry said on Mar. 21.
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Kishida’s meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was made a secret until the very last minute for security reasons — a rare occurrence for a Japanese leader.
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Japan is planning to host a G-7 summit with other leaders of several of the world’s largest economies in Hiroshima, Japan in May. Kishida hopes that this summit would encourage opposition against Russia’s invasion and work to “uphold international order and rule of law.”
Current-affairs magazine, The Diplomat, reported that China has been continuing to conduct negotiations to “break the U.S. dominance of global political and economic networks.” One such move was the brokering of an agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomacy. Such moves, they believe, puts Japan on high alert, prompting Tokyo to boost its defense budget and cooperation with other nations.
In addition to the bombers, Russia also deployed Bastion coastal defense missile systems to Paramushir, one of the Kuril Islands which Japan claims, among several others, al-Jazeera reported. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed that this was done in response to what he called U.S. efforts to “contain” Russia and China.
“To contain Russia and China, the United States is significantly increasing its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, strengthening its political and military links with its allies, continuing to create a new American security architecture in this region,” Shiogu said.
According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Japan has also tried to strengthen its relations with India for a “free and open Indo-Pacific” against China. However, when it comes to Ukraine, Prime Minister Modi’s government refuses to blame Russia for the crisis.