Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in telephone call Friday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, condemned Russia’s new annexation of parts of Ukraine as illegal and a violation of the country’s sovereignty.
“I told him that the process that Russia called a referendum and its annexation of parts of Ukraine should never be accepted, and that I strongly condemn them,” Kishida said afterward.
Kishida said he also reassured Zelenskyy in their 30-minute conversation that Japan is committed to working with other Group of Seven nations and the broader international community in further supporting Ukraine, and plans to impose more sanctions against Russia.
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Western leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden have also condemned Russia’s annexation of four occupied Ukrainian regions days after voters supposedly approved Moscow-managed “referendums” on joining Russia.
Kishida, who is to host a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations next year, told Zelenskyy he plans to propose that they impose tough sanctions against Russia, and will lead a discussion on Ukraine’s reconstruction.
He said Japan is assessing when it can reopen its embassy in Kyiv, which he described as important for close contacts between Japan and Ukraine. Japan closed its embassy in March as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine intensified and moved part of its operations to Lviv in western Ukraine.
Japan has closely cooperated with other G-7 members and European nations in imposing sanctions on Russia over its war in Ukraine. Most recently, Japan banned exports of sensitive materials that could be used to make chemical weapons.
Japan’s sanctions against Russia have further damaged their ties, already strained over a group of islands taken by Moscow at the end of World War II that have prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their war hostilities.
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In retaliation for Tokyo’s sanctions, Moscow terminated peace talks, including negotiations over the islands.