Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa said on a surprise visit to Kyiv on Sunday that Tokyo was “determined” to support Ukraine, as the second anniversary of Moscow’s invasion nears.
Japan has joined Western sanctions against Russia and provided weapons to Kyiv.
During her first foreign trip of 2024, Kamikawa held a press conference with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in a Kyiv bomb shelter as an air siren rang out.
“Japan is determined to support Ukraine so that peace can return to Ukraine,” she said, sitting at a desk in a cellar with Kuleba. “I can feel how tense the situation in Ukraine is now.”
Her visit came during an escalation of attacks on both sides in the conflict.
“I once again strongly condemn Russia’s missile and drone attacks, particularly on New Year’s Day,” said Kamikawa, the first foreign guest in Ukraine this year.
She announced that Tokyo would “allocate $37 million to provide a drone detection system”.
Japan will also supply five generators to help Ukraine “survive” another winter during the Russian assault, she said.
Kamikawa also visited the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where Russian forces are blamed for a 2022 massacre of civilians, saying she was “shocked” by what she saw.
She also went to Irpin, a past scene of heavy fighting.
Her previously unannounced visit was a change to a two-week tour plan starting Friday that was to take in Poland, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, Germany and Turkey.
Kamikawa and Kuleba also discussed Japan’s plans to host a conference to promote Ukraine’s economic reconstruction in Tokyo in February.
Kuleba in turn expressed “solidarity” with Japan for the January 1 earthquake.
He said Kyiv was thankful for Japan’s decision last year to provide Ukraine with F-16s jets, but said the country also needed air defence systems.
“Every day, Ukrainian cities are destroyed by Russian missiles and drones. They cannot capture us, so they are trying to destroy us,” he said.
Kuleba also said the two discussed “threats from North Korea”.
Japan’s foreign ministry earlier said Kamikawa would “demonstrate Japan’s determination to uphold the international order based on the ‘rule of law’ from the perspective that unilateral changes to the status quo by force, such as Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, cannot be accepted.”