Japan’s foreign minister to visit war-torn Ukraine with business leaders to discuss reconstruction

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, accompanied by a number of business leaders, is visiting Ukraine on Saturday for talks with his counterpart to show support for the war-torn country and emphasize his country’s backing of sanctions against Russia, the Japanese foreign ministry said in a statement.

Hayashi, who had been on a tour of the Middle East and Poland earlier this week, will meet with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv. This is his first visit since the war began over a year ago.

His visit comes six months after Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s trip to Ukraine.

Hayashi is also set to visit Bucha, one of the hardest-hit towns on the outskirts of Kyiv, said a Japanese foreign ministry official who requested anonymity, saying he is not allowed to speak to the media on the record.

He also said Hayashi will convey Japan’s determination to support Ukraine’s economic recovery and reconstruction from the damages of war “from a uniquely Japanese perspective” through cooperation between the public and private sectors.

Tokyo plans to host a Japan-Ukraine conference aimed at economic reconstruction of the war-ravaged country sometime at the end of this year or early next year.

The foreign minister is bringing along a delegation of Japanese business representatives, including Rakuten Group CEO Hiroshi Mikitani and Teppei Sakano, president of a medical equipment maker Allm Co., the official said.

The business delegation aims to assess the situation in Ukraine on the ground and communicate with the Ukrainian side about its reconstruction needs, the ministry said.

Japan donated more than $7 billion to Ukraine, mostly for humanitarian assistance, and military equipment limited to non-lethal weapons because of the legal limitations under the Japanese pacifist Constitution.

Kishida visited Ukraine in late March, as the last G7 leader to do so ahead of the summit in May he hosted in Hiroshima, where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s last-minute appearance dominated attention.