Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is making a surprise trip to Ukraine on Tuesday to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — a day after Chinese leader Xi Jinping met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Kishida has already left India, where he met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and is now on his way to Ukraine, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
His trip is the first time a Japanese prime minister has visited a country or region with ongoing fighting since World War II, NHK reported.
It will also be the first visit to Ukraine by an Asian member of the G7 grouping and the first by a US ally in the region.
In the face of China’s growing assertiveness and global reach, Japan and the United States have moved closer in recent years, especially on regional security and intelligence cooperation. Japan is also a member of the Quad, the informal group focused on security that includes India, Australia and the United States.
Kishida has previously spoken out forcefully against Moscow’s invasion of its neighbor, warning last year that “Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow.”
Last month, on the eve of the invasion’s one-year anniversary, Japan pledged $5.5 billion in humanitarian aid to Ukraine, quadrupling Tokyo’s previous contributions.
“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is not just a European matter, but a challenge to the rules and principles of the entire international community,” Kishida said at the time.
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