July 11, 2023
TOKYO – Ukraine has interest in introducing Shinkansen superexpress train technology as part of its reconstruction efforts, Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Korsunsky said during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday.
Sunday marked the 500th day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “We cannot wait until the war ends” to discuss recovery efforts, Korsunsky said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.
The ambassador also called on Japan to expand its non-lethal defense assistance to Ukraine by supplying what he called “more serious equipment,” referring to anti-drone and anti-missile systems. This way, Kyiv’s counteroffensive can be more “effective,” Korsunsky said.
Stressing the importance of urgently addressing Ukraine’s economic recovery, Korsunsky said Tokyo and Kyiv were making arrangements to hold a reconstruction conference in Japan, possibly in January or February next year. For the conference, both Ukrainian and Japanese firms will participate, according to the ambassador.
The Shinkansen is “one of the very interesting projects” where Japan could assist Ukraine’s recovery, Korsunsky said.
“If you look at the geography of Ukraine, it’s very reasonable to have this bullet train because from Kyiv to each direction, you have 700 to 900 kilometers,” he said. “It’s not that long for Shinkansen — two to three hours one way — but it will change Ukraine.”
In the meantime, Korsunsky stated his hope that Japan will provide Ukraine with “sophisticated” items such as radars and anti-drone or anti-missile systems, within the scope allowed for the Japanese government. Revealing that Kyiv has already told Tokyo of such expectations, the ambassador emphasized that “it’s up to the decision of the government of Japan.”
“We fully recognize Article 9 and the position of the government of Japan,” Korsunsky said, referring to the article on the renunciation of war in Japan’s Constitution.
Currently, Japan has provided Ukraine items such as bulletproof vests, helmets and trucks.
“We don’t want to be a spoiler of the public position” toward the transfer of lethal defense equipment, Korsunsky said. “But at the same time, we know there is very good equipment in Japan, which could be used against drones and against equipment for surveillance.”
Japan’s ruling coalition has been discussing the easing of the nation’s restrictions related to defense equipment exports to militarily invaded countries. As it stands, Japan can only export equipment related to the following areas of cooperation: rescue, transportation, vigilance, surveillance or minesweeping.
Korsunsky also mentioned demining as another field in which Japan can make a difference.
“For 10 to 20 years, we have to demine our territory,” he said, saying the number of mines is “huge.”
With regard to the White House’s announcement Friday to provide Kyiv with cluster munitions to support the large-scale counteroffensive, Korsunsky said it’s “completely legitimate” to use them. He noted that Ukraine, like Russia and the United States, is not a party to the treaty banning their use, stockpiling and production.
There are concerns that cluster munitions, which disperse over a wide area the numerous smaller explosives contained within, may cause civilian casualties, especially from contact with unexploded ordnance.
“They are effective weapons to break their rings of defense the Russians built on our territory,” Korsunsky said, insisting that Kyiv will only use them on battlefields.
“Our goal is not to kill civilians,” the ambassador said. “Our goal is to remove the Russian army from our territory.”