Ukraine Has High Hopes Japan Will Support Reconstruction

Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, left, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy are seen during their press conference in Kyiv on Tuesday.

KYIV — Ukraine understands that there are constraints on Japan with regard to military assistance, so Kyiv expects Tokyo to make further contributions such as toward civilian assistance and reconstruction of areas damaged by Russia’s invasion.

The administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has so far stressed the importance of rebuilding transportation networks to export the country’s grain, a major source of foreign currency, as well as facilities such as schools and hospitals.

Ukraine particularly counts on Japan’s wisdom for reconstruction. Japan has gained expertise in disaster recovery in the aftermath of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. In the same vein of its support for landmine clearance in Cambodia after the civil war there, Japan will supply mine detectors among other devices to Ukraine and instruct personnel in their use.

The Ukrainian government estimates that reconstruction will cost $1 trillion (¥131 trillion). The country’s gross domestic product last year declined by 30.4% from the previous year, and support from other countries is essential.

This year Japan holds the presidency of the G7, which is working to establish a framework for the international community’s long-term involvement in the reconstruction process. With the United Nations and G20 seemingly dysfunctional, the G7 looks to take the lead in supporting Ukraine.

Japan has had good relations with Asian countries that have taken a neutral stance toward Russia’s invasion. Being the only Asian country in the G7, Japan is seen among diplomatic experts to be able to exert influence on the issue.

This year’s G7 summit in May will be held in Hiroshima, the first city afflicted by an atomic bomb dropped by the United States. Russia has repeatedly made nuclear threats. For Ukraine, nuclear safety is a top priority and Kyiv hopes that Japan and other countries reiterate their opposition against nuclear weapons once again at the summit.