February 27, 2023
TOKYO – It is highly significant that the leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations have come closer together to support Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion. Japan must play its part in restoring the international order.
The first G7 summit meeting since Japan took over the presidency of the group this year was held online.
In the leaders’ statement issued afterward, the G7 set forth a plan to impose additional sanctions against Russia and called on “third countries” to stop providing material support to Moscow, with such nations as China in mind.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that $5.5 billion in additional aid would be provided to Ukraine to restore infrastructure and for other needs.
One year has passed since the start of the invasion, but there is no sign of an end to the war.
Because of the unfavorable war situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he plans to increase his country’s nuclear capabilities. It is possible that the Kremlin will increase its nuclear threats in the future.
Japan must closely watch developments involving Russia and proactively use its position as G7 president to take the lead on specific measures, such as strengthening sanctions against that country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who participated in the summit talks, called for continued support in various forms.
Japan is restricted in its exports of defense equipment and other items under the Self-Defense Forces Law and other regulations. While leaving the provision of tanks and other equipment to the United States and European countries, it is essential for Japan to provide such items as medical supplies and wintertime assistance.
For a long time after the end of World War II, many people in Japan may have thought that various conflicts in the world were not directly related to them. However, now that acts of aggression have been committed in violation of the U.N. Charter and the security environment around Japan has deteriorated, Japan cannot sit idly by and watch international situations unfold.
Japan’s support for Ukraine, in cooperation with such countries as the United States and European nations, will certainly have a direct impact on Japan’s security. As the only Asian country in the G7, it must be acknowledged that Japan’s efforts will affect the reputation of Asia as a whole.
The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for the unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops and the achievement of peace in Ukraine. A total of 141 countries, including Japan, the United States and European countries, voted in favor of the resolution, while seven, including Russia and North Korea, opposed it. Thirty-two countries abstained, including China, Vietnam and South Africa.
Japan has long supported the nation-building of developing countries in Southeast Asia and elsewhere around the world through official development assistance. Relations between Japan and African nations are good, with Japan having established the framework of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in 1993, which has held repeated gatherings.
Japan must leverage such achievements to conduct diplomacy in a way that Western countries cannot. Tokyo needs to make the case that if Moscow’s actions, which ignore international law, are tolerated, the safety and prosperity of developing countries cannot be expected.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 26, 2023)