80 Japan Firms Participate in 1st Japan-Ukraine Reconstruction Conference; Companies to Help in Agriculture, Tech, Infrastructure

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The first Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Growth and Reconstruction in Tokyo on Monday

About 80 Japanese companies took part in the inaugural Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Growth and Reconstruction, signing cooperation agreements in seven fields, including agriculture, transport infrastructure development and technology, in Tokyo on Monday.

Such initiatives could offer Japanese firms an opportunity to leverage their cutting-edge technology and meet Ukraine’s reconstruction demands. However, with no end to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in sight, it is uncertain whether Japanese companies can fully engage in the Ukrainian market.

“Japan’s public and private sectors will all work together through an all-Japan approach, utilizing the knowledge derived from Japan’s postwar and disaster reconstruction efforts, as well as advanced technology and knowhow from the private sector,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at the conference on Monday.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, who urged Japanese companies to participate in Ukraine’s reconstruction, said that the private sector is the driving force behind economic reconstruction. He also added that companies investing in Ukraine will reap incredible benefits.

About 50 Ukrainian companies also participated in the conference.

Under the reconstruction support plans by Japanese companies, Rakuten Group, Inc., through its subsidiary, will work with a Ukrainian company to rebuild telecommunications infrastructure. Rakuten has experience in the field as it has provided German companies with telecommunications systems that utilize cloud technology.

Rakuten Chairman and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani said at a press conference on Friday that Ukraine has technological capabilities that are highly expected to help the country rapidly grow, similar to post-war Japan.

Isuzu Motors Ltd., a major commercial vehicle maker, aims to primarily provide trucks that are essential for reconstruction, while heavy industry giant IHI Corp. plans to be involved in the restoration of damaged roads and bridges.

Kubota Corp. and Yanmar Agribusiness Co. are aiming to assist Ukraine’s agricultural sector, which is the country’s main industry, by supplying tractors and other agricultural machinery. As Ukraine has many small and midsized farms, there is demand for Japan-made agricultural machinery, which is known for its maneuverability.

Sumitomo Corp. is considering gathering data to improve the efficiency of Ukraine’s heat and power supply system, which requires such resources as oil and gas. In collaboration with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. and local companies, Sumitomo will also look into developing gas compressors and other equipment to transport natural gas via long-distance pipelines.

According to the World Bank and other sources, an estimated $486 billion, or about ¥72 trillion, will be required over the next 10 years for the reconstruction of Ukraine. Of the estimated costs, 15% will be allocated to the transportation sector, 12% to the agricultural sector and 10% to the energy sector, all fields in which Japanese expertise is highly sought after.

However, there is a slight disagreement between the types of Japanese companies Ukraine wanted and the planned support Japan’s private sector is offering.

The Ukrainian prime minister said at the conference the country wants Japanese automakers to establish manufacturing bases in Ukraine.

Yet, the majority of the cooperation agreements are chiefly focused on infrastructure restoration.