Japan’s Leader Visits Ukraine as China’s Visits Russia

March 21, 2023

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Tuesday, as Chinese President Xi Jinping was on his second day of a three-day visit to Russia.

The two leaders’ visits—just some 500 miles apart—highlighted the repercussions for international diplomacy amid the Ukraine-Russia War, now in its second year.

Kishida, who is set to chair the Group of Seven (G-7) economic leaders’ summit in May, planned to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv Tuesday—a meeting that was scheduled to coincide with talks between Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. 

According to Japan’s Foreign Ministry, during his visit 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.”

And during talks with Zelensky, the Ministry said Kishida will show his “absolute rejection of 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.”

Kishida’s surprise visit to Ukraine comes just hours after he met in New Delhi with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and one week after a summit in Tokyo with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yoel.

While in India, Kishida called for developing and Global South countries to raise their voices and, as he plans to reiterate in Kyiv, to defend the rules-based international order to help end Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. 

Xi’s visit to Russia comes just days after the International Criminal Court in the Hague announced it had issued an arrest warrant for Putin for alleged war crimes in Russia—specifically over the Russian President’s alleged involvement in the abduction of Ukrainian children. 

In February, Japan donated $5.5 billion in military aid to Ukraine, as well as its most recent of 14 separate sanctions packages related to Russian oil. Japan has also accepted more than 2,000 Ukrainian refugees.

The rest of Kishida’s itinerary remained under wraps; however, he was due to meet with Polish President Andrzej Duda before returning to Tokyo Thursday morning. 

PHOTO: Official Portrait 2021

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