Japanese PM to meet President Zelensky in Kyiv

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 Japanese Prime Minister to meet President Zelensky in Kiev

Sajjad Hussain Agence France-Presse Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a visit to New Delhi, India, Monday

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is on his way to Kyiv for a surprise visit and meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday, the Japanese Foreign Ministry announced.

Mr. Kishida will “convey to President Zelensky his respect for the courage and perseverance of the Ukrainian people who are defending their homeland under his command, as well as the unfailing solidarity and support for Ukraine from Japan and the G7”, whose country from Asia is the host this year, the ministry said in a statement.

Fumio Kishida was the group's only leader yet to have been to Kyiv since the Russian invasion in February 2022 He was regularly called upon to visit Ukraine. Last February, US President Joe Biden also made a surprise visit to kyiv.

Japanese television NHK said its reporters in Poland filmed a car carrying the prime minister into the town of Przemysl, from where foreign officials often took a train to Ukraine.

“The convoy entered Przemysl station and parked in front of a platform used by international trains to Ukraine. Prime Minister Kishida alighted from the first car of the convoy and boarded the last carriage of the train,” she added.

According to the channel, the train left at 01:30 a.m. ( local time in Poland).

Kishida had repeatedly said the trip was “under consideration”, with government sources citing security concerns and logistical challenges to Japanese media.

He becomes the first Japanese prime minister to travel to 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 his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the conflict in Ukraine, at the center of the discussions.

Tokyo has joined Western sanctions against Russia and offered its assistance to Kiev.

In February, Japan announced US$5.5 billion in new aid to Ukraine.

Tokyo has also sent it defensive equipment and offered to take in those fleeing the conflict.

Japan did not, however, provide military aid, its pacifist Constitution obliging it to limit its military capabilities to defensive measures .