Japan Conference on Ukraine Aid Aims to Boost Public-Private Cooperation

From the Foreign Ministry’s post on X
Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, right, inspects a bridge in the process of being restored in the suburbs of Kyiv on Jan. 7.

Amid a growing feeling of Ukraine fatigue has been reported in the United States and Europe, Japan continues its support for the country by holding a conference with the private sector next month to further expand assistance.

The Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Reconstruction in Japan is slated for Feb. 19 in Tokyo. The government will cooperate with private enterprises to compile measures that take advantage of Japan’s technological capabilities.

In November, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which provides humanitarian assistance, reopened its Kyiv office after its operations were suspended due to Russia’s attacks on Ukraine. The agency has since been meeting various needs in the country by expanding its assistance in various fields.

One such assistance is landmine clearance. Unexploded ordnance in Ukraine poses a risk in about 30% of its land area, home to about 5 million people. In regions once occupied by Russian forces, there have been reported cases of bombs planted in debris and stuffed toys.

The Japan-made landmine detectors provided to Ukraine can react to metal objects as well as detect landmines by scanning beneath the ground.

Last year, training for officials of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine was held in Cambodia, where these detectors are being used, and Ukraine will also receive Japan-made landmine removal equipment.

Japan can also provide technical guidance from its experience in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Officials of Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry and local governments will visit disaster waste disposal sites in Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures from late January to February. Plans are in motion to provide heavy equipment for debris disposal and instruction on how to effectively use the machines.

As for students who have no choice but to take classes remotely after their schools were destroyed, Japan has donated computer equipment to support their studies and provided support for children traumatized by the Russian drone and missile attacks.

Donations also included generators to help the country get through winter and water purifiers to counter the effects of flooding caused by the collapse of the Kakhovka dam.

High demand

Participation of the private sector is now key. According to estimates by sources, including the World Bank, $411 billion (about ¥61 trillion) will be necessary to rebuild Ukraine.

There is a heap of projects, from rebuilding energy facilities, roads, bridges and port facilities among other infrastructure destroyed by Russian forces, as well as improving the capability of hospitals.

Although there are safety risks for companies, they can expect the opportunity to receive large-scale project orders.

In November, JICA held a briefing in Tokyo for private businesses about Ukraine’s reconstruction demand, and about 250 firms, from trading and construction giants to startups, attended the event.

The country is known as the Silicon Valley of Eastern Europe due to a plethora of talented IT human resources. Many participants at the briefing were IT companies seeking to collaborate with Ukrainian companies.

Emerging companies are also seeking to support reconstruction with their technologies. Tsubame BHB Co., a Yokohama-based firm that works on ammonia synthesis, aims to produce alternative fuel in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, where many civilians were massacred under the Russian occupation. The company said it hopes to contribute to building Ukraine’s energy independence and resilience.

In the United States and Europe, it has become the norm for the public and private sectors to cooperate in supporting Ukraine. Next month’s conference will be a testing ground to see if the trend of public-private sector cooperation gains momentum in Japan as well.