Date: 24 March 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński

Japanese PM Kishida Makes Surprise Visit to Ukraine

Japan is watching the Chinese-Russian rapprochement. Not surprisingly, it is looking for allies amongst the opponents of China, which is why the Japanese prime minister traveled to Kyiv and Warsaw. Japan is a vital and promising partner for countries in Europe’s center and east.


Japan’s Fumio Kishida met President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on March 21 during a rare, unannounced visit. The Japanese leader visited the war-ravaged country for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Kishida met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to show solidarity and unwavering support for Ukraine. Importantly, he condemned Russian policy. Kishida confirmed any unilateral change to the status quo by force cannot be forgiven in any region. The official traveled from India to Rzeszów, Poland. Kishida then rode a train from Poland heading to Kyiv – just as other Western leaders did. Kishida also visited Bucha, a town near Kyiv where Russian forces were accused of committing widespread war crimes. Kishida later met with Polish President Andrzej Duda and Polish Prime Minister Andrzej Duda in Warsaw. Kishida stressed the importance of Polish-Japanese cooperation. Kishida’s trip to Poland and Ukraine is a signal of the growing Japanese interest in Central and Eastern Europe. The authorities in Tokyo have responded – mostly through soft power tools – to mounting Chinese influence throughout the region they had long been concerned about. As Beijing offers more support to Russia, Japan has more options to discourage some countries from teaming with China, which de facto means support to Moscow. The fact that the Japanese prime minister’s visit to Ukraine took place on the same day as that of China’s leader to Russia may not have been a coincidence.

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