Japan’s Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko is in the middle of a visit to Europe, highlighted by a trip to war-torn Ukraine. With stops in Ukraine, Poland, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Germany, Kamikawa is focusing on confirming European support for peace in Ukraine and affirming the Japanese public and private sector’s role in rebuilding the war-stricken country.
In her first international visit for 2024, Kamikawa met Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv where she condemned Russia’s missile and drone attacks across Ukraine during the New Year period. She expressed sincere condolences to the victims of the conflict and commended Ukraine’s long-standing efforts in the war.
Kamikawa later met with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy, telling him that Japan was “determined” to keep supporting Ukraine. With the war in Ukraine nearing its second anniversary, Zelenskyy has made impassioned pleas for continued military support from the United States and Europe. He has expressed concerns over “aid fatigue” and the war in Gaza diverting global attention away from Ukraine.
On January 8, Tokyo announced $37 million to be distributed via a NATO trust fund to bolster Ukraine’s defense systems and help civilians adapt to the harsh winter amid energy shortages. The latest financial package is in addition to approximately $7 billion in humanitarian and non-lethal military aid pledged in 2023. Kamikawa said the funds would go toward a drone detection system to monitor Russian drones in addition to five gas turbine power generators and transportation support.
Japan is also getting ready to host Ukrainian leaders on February 19 for the Japan-Ukraine Economic Recovery Promotion Summit. Kamikawa and Kuleba exchanged views on reconstruction projects based on the needs of the country. Ten Japanese companies offering to help rebuild Ukraine are expected to sign a document at the summit.
Among the companies is Japanese start-up EF Polymer, which produces a fertilizer material to help farmers produce crops with less water. The company says their technology can help Ukrainian farms tackle water shortages after Russian attacks on dams. Meanwhile, large-scale machinery manufacturer IHI says it is considering building a bridge in southwest Ukraine to connect it with neighboring countries.
Last year Zelenskyy unveiled a 10-point peace plan, which stresses radiation and nuclear safety. Kamikawa promised to help Ukraine realize its formula for peace. The first item on the peace agenda was restoring the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine. It is the largest in Europe and currently under the control of Russian armed forces. During the hour-long meeting, both parties agreed to co-chair a working group on radiation and nuclear safety in order to contribute to the peace forum discussions.
Additionally, the two sides discussed the status of Ukraine’s domestic reforms, including measures against corruption, and cooperation between the governments of Japan and Ukraine.
Kamikawa told reporters in Kyiv that “I will strongly call for continuing support and demonstrating unity among like-minded countries including the Group of Seven major powers.” After visiting Ukraine, she met her counterparts in Poland, Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Further stops are planned in the United States, Canada, Germany, and Turkey before the marathon two-week trip ends.
Since the war in Ukraine began, the Kishida administration has been eager to demonstrate its role in maintaining a “rules-based international order.” The government has positioned Ukraine as a high diplomatic priority and an avenue to contribute to its international peace. Kamikawa’s latest trip is the Kishida administration’s third visit to Ukraine since February 2022.