KYIV/WARSAW — Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi visited Ukraine on Saturday, the Japanese government said.
During the trip, Hayashi was expected to confirm the establishment of a Japanese ministry office to assist in Ukraine’s rebuilding.
Representatives from Japan’s business community — including Rakuten Group, Inc. Chairman and President Hiroshi Mikitani — joined Hayashi on the sojourn with the aim of promoting private-sector investment.
Hayashi’s visit marked the first time for a Japanese Cabinet minister to visit Ukraine since Russia invaded its neighbor in February last year. In March this year, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Kyiv and held talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Japan is scheduled to host a meeting of Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers in the autumn. As G7 chair, Japan plans to assess the situation in Ukraine and lead calls for the international community to expand support to that country.
Ahead of his Ukraine visit, Hayashi visited Warsaw on Friday afternoon, where he met with Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau. The following morning, Hayashi visited Bucha near Kyiv, where many civilians have been killed.
The Japanese foreign minister was set to meet later in the day with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv and hold a joint press conference. Hayashi was also scheduled to attend a dinner with Ukrainian officials attended by Deputy Prime Minister for Restoration Oleksandr Kubrakov.
During the meeting, Hayashi and Kuleba were expected to agree to start negotiations to compile a “bilateral document” to strengthen Japan’s support for Ukraine.
Hayashi was also expected to suggest that Ukrainian government officials and others visit Japan early next year for a conference to promote the economic reconstruction of Ukraine. He also was expected to announce the provision of 20 trucks to move unexploded bombs, and the delivery of two large-scale voltage-conversion facilities by the end of the month to help Ukrainian citizens get through the winter.
Mikitani and other Japanese business representatives were to exchange views and assess the needs of representatives from the Ukrainian government and local businesses.
Prior to leaving for Ukraine, Hayashi issued a statement, saying, “To realize a fair and lasting peace in Ukraine as soon as possible, we [Japan] will work together with the international community to firmly tackle the severe sanctions against Russia and provide strong support for Ukraine.”