Volodymyr Zelenskyy Has High Hopes for Japan’s Support, Leadership

Minako Sasako / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gestures during an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun while traveling by train in Ukraine on Thursday.

ABOARD A TRAIN IN SOUTHERN UKRAINE — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has high expectations for Japan’s leadership in its role as the chair of the Group of Seven regarding his nation’s recovery from the Russian invasion, Zelenskyy told The Yomiuri Shimbun on Thursday.

“We need big, big support and leadership of Japan,” the Ukrainian president said in an exclusive interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun for about an hour aboard a train that transported him from southern Ukraine to Kyiv.

“When we speak about renovation of Ukraine, especially now, for a fast recovery plan, we need leadership from Japan,” he added. He particularly hopes for civilian support and economic cooperation from Japan, he said.

Regarding China, which has called for peace talks, he stated that he has not received any proposal and suggested that he has requested cooperation on a 10-point peace plan proposed by the Ukrainian side and the holding of a summit meeting.

Zelenskyy praised Japan as one of the first countries to impose sanctions against Russia, and expressed appreciation for Japan’s support on energy to help Ukraine get through the cold winter.

“We went through this winter with a lot of partners. Thank you, Japan,” he said.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Kyiv on Tuesday, he stressed the importance of Japan’s cooperation on medicine and environmentally friendly energy systems with his country’s longer-term recovery in mind. Zelenskyy also said he encouraged Kishida to invite Japanese companies to set up operations in Ukraine in the automobile industry and in the production of minerals such as lithium.

Zelenskyy expressed a strong sense of danger about Russia’s current occupation of nuclear power plants and stressed the need for Japanese know-how on nuclear safety.

Regarding the possibility of dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he stressed that Russia must leave Ukraine’s territory. Regarding the idea of a ceasefire, he said, “I don’t trust [Putin] totally.”

Zelenskyy expressed skepticism about China’s 12-point proposal calling for a ceasefire and peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, saying that “respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity” must come first.

“I did not get a proposal from China to mediate. I didn’t get the proposal to meet,” he said.

“I also, by diplomatic channels, gave straight messages that I want to speak with the leader of China.”