Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida traveled Tuesday to Boutcha, a martyred city near Kyiv that has become a symbol of the atrocities of the Russian occupation, as part of his first “historic” visit to Ukraine.
Mr. Kishida went to Boutcha by train at the beginning of the afternoon, shortly after his arrival in Kyiv and before his meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky, noted AFP journalists on the spot.
His trip to this country at war was described as “historic” by Kyiv.
“This historic visit is a sign of solidarity and strong cooperation between Ukraine and Japan,” Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Djeppar said on Facebook, posting photos of Mr. Kishida on the train platform in Kyiv.
“We are grateful to Japan for their strong support and contribution to our future victory,” she added.
Mr Kishida became the first Japanese government leader to visit a war zone since the end of World War II.
His visit comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Moscow for a meeting with Vladimir Putin with the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the center of the discussion.
Mr. Kishida must meet Volodymyr Zelensky to convey to him “his respect for the courage and perseverance of the people who defend their homeland under his command, as well as the solidarity and unfailing support for Ukraine from Japan and the G7” , which the Asian country is hosting this year, Japanese diplomacy said in a statement.
Fumio Kishida was the only G7 leader yet to visit Kyiv since the Russian invasion launched in February 2022.
He was regularly called to go to Ukraine. At the end of February 2023, US President Joe Biden also made a surprise media visit to Kyiv.
Tokyo has joined Western sanctions against Russia and offered aid to Kyiv.
In February, Japan announced new aid of 5.5 billion dollars (5.1 billion euros) to Ukraine.
Tokyo also sent him defensive equipment and offered to take in refugees from the conflict.
Japan, however, did not provide military aid, its pacifist constitution obliging it to limit its military capabilities to defensive measures.
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