Free Press International / October 21, 2019
By Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Ukrainian Service
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has kicked off a four-day working visit to Japan during which he’ll attend Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony.
Meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Zelenskiy thanked him for his continued support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, the presidential office said on Oct. 21.
The two leaders discussed Japan’s investments in infrastructure projects in Ukraine, the statement said, noting that Japan’s financial assistance to Kyiv had reached $1.8 billion since 2014.
Zelenskiy also raised the issue of introducing a visa-free regime for Ukrainians ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Japan already eased travel-visa requirements for Ukrainians in 2017
During his visit, which is scheduled to run until Oct. 24, the Ukrainian president is expected to hold talks with the leaders of Japan’s two legislative chambers, members of the Parliamentary Friendship Association with Ukraine, the management of Japan’s International Development Agency, and the Japan Association of New Economy, as well as business executives.
Zelenskiy also plans plans to meet bilaterally with leaders of other countries who will be attending the enthronement ceremony on Oct. 22.
Kyiv enjoys warm relations with Tokyo as Japan has not recognized Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and has imposed certain restrictive measures on Moscow for the move, as well as Moscow’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people since April 2014.
“Ukraine is, of course, an independent sovereign country with a recognized border,” Japanese Ambassador to Ukraine Takashi Kurai told the Kyiv Post in July. “I do respect the people who are here who have been fighting for the freedom and independence of this country.”
Japan has given Ukraine $50 million in humanitarian assistance meant for war victims, plus nearly $2 billion in grants and loans since the Maidan pro-democracy movement ousted former President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February 2014, the Kyiv Post reported.
It said Japan has also donated some 1,500 cars for Ukraine’s revamped police force and provided money and advice for the country’s beleaguered health-care system.
With reporting by the Kyiv Post