Facing Up To the Tragedy in Ukraine Has Significance

It is important that the experience of visiting war zones and coming into contact with the reality of the damage be used to shape international public opinion.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and conveyed his intention to make every possible effort for the withdrawal of all Russian forces.

The joint statement released after the meeting stated that “full restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders is vital for global peace, stability and security.” As the chair of the Group of Seven advanced nations, Japan has many issues to address.

Prior to the talks, Kishida toured Bucha, near Kyiv, where many civilians were massacred. He reportedly heard directly from local residents about the various atrocities committed by the Russian military.

At a press conference, Kishida said, “Witnessing the tragedy, I once again strongly feel that the invasion was an outrage that shakes the very foundations of the international order.”

It must have been meaningful for Kishida to directly witness the tragedy brought about by Russia’s aggression. The test will be whether Japan can extend its solidarity with Ukraine to the international community.

Japan’s own support measures were also on the agenda at the meeting. Kishida announced that Japan would contribute a total of $500 million for the provision of nonlethal equipment and assistance in the energy and other sectors.

Japan’s Self-Defense Forces Law and other laws restrict the export of equipment capable of killing and wounding. Japan cannot provide tanks and other weapons as the United States and some European countries do. However, there are many areas of civilian assistance to which it can contribute, such as medical care and education.

The Japanese government has also begun activities for reconstruction, such as landmine clearance training for Ukrainian government employees. Japan needs to make full use of its strengths to support Ukraine from a medium- to long-term perspective.

Meanwhile, attention has been focused on the movements of China and Russia regarding the Ukraine situation.

At a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Chinese President Xi Jinping explained his own “peace plan” calling on both Russia and Ukraine for a ceasefire and peace negotiations. This may be aimed at putting himself forward as a mediator to help resolve the crisis.

China’s peace plan neither mentions the fact of aggression nor calls for the withdrawal of Russian troops. It is as if China regards the territory that Ukraine has so far lost as belonging to Russia, so it is obvious that Beijing takes Moscow’s side.

It is also surprising that Xi asked Putin, for whom the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant over war crimes, to visit China. Although the warrant is not valid in China and Russia, which are not ICC members, Xi’s behavior would mean that he endorses Putin’s war crimes.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 23, 2023)