Kishida Defends Abe’s Diplomacy with Russia

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at a joint news conference with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, on Tuesday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday defended his country’s past diplomacy toward Russia, including peace treaty talks promoted by the late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“I believe there were no problems in Japan’s past diplomacy toward Russia,” Kishida told a plenary meeting of the House of Representatives.

At the meeting, Hisashi Tokunaga of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, pointed out that the Abe administration had pursued economic cooperation with Russia even after its annexation of Crimea in southern Ukraine in 2014.

This was a “remote cause” of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Tokunaga argued.

In response, Kishida said, “It is inappropriate to evaluate past diplomacy by today’s standards.” He indicated that his government will not abolish the post of minister in charge of economic cooperation with Russia.

“Japan consistently supports the sovereignty of Ukraine, including Crimea, and its territorial integrity,” the prime minister reiterated.

Kishida said that Japan, as this year’s chair of the Group of Seven major democracies, will step up sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine.

On energy assistance he promised to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his visit to Kyiv earlier this week, Kishida said his government will provide the aid as quickly as possible.

Kishida also sought support for his government’s pledge to provide $30 million in non-lethal equipment to Ukraine through NATO.

Emphasizing the significance of his Ukraine visit, Kishida said, “I was able to feel the tense atmosphere with my own eyes and ears.”

At a G-7 summit to be held in the western Japan city of Hiroshima in May, “we want to show the world our determination to uphold the international order based on the rule of law,” he said.