Diplomats: We should not expect Japan to cancel sanctions against Russia


Russian aggression in Ukraine lead to strengthening ties between Ukraine and Japan and now the two states prepare for closer cooperation in scientific and technological spheres.  

Japan is the only country in Asia which introduced restrictive measures against Russia. It was a co-author of the UN General Assembly resolution condemning the Russian annexation of Crimea. This was stated by Yuriy Kostenko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Japan in 2000-2006, at a presentation of “Foreign Policy Audit: Ukraine-Japan” held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

“Japan did not do this altruistically; it took into account its national interests. There is no solving the dispute with Russia on the Kuril Islands at present, and therefore there is no peace agreement. There are tensions with China. Japan is forced to respond to the consolidated position of G7 concerning Russia’s flagrant violation of international law. Despite Japanese Prime Minister’s attempts to solve the problem of northern territories, we should not expect Japan to cancel sanctions against Russia,” said Mr. Kostenko.

Shigeki Sumi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Ukraine, said that Ukrainian war with Russia had strengthened Ukrainian-Japanese relations. “These tragic events have led to a deepening of our bilateral relations. Before the Russian aggression, Ukrainian leaders were interested in only Europe and the US. Now they realize that they can learn from Japan too. All Ukrainians should also understand this,” said the Ambassador. “We should develop our relations not only in the context of economic assistance, but also establish a private relationship, we see opportunities for investments. It should be used to increase their volumes,” added Mr. Sumi.

Kostyantyn Gura, acting director of public company “Center for Green Investments”, noted that only for energy efficiency and renewable energy Ukraine needs EUR 35 and 16 billion respectively. “This is an unsustainable figure for the Ukrainian budget. That is why foreign investment should be attracted. With its advanced technologies, Japan can become a reliable partner in these areas. There are good prospects for joint work. It is the growth point for the Ukrainian economy, and it is good for Japanese companies that we have been negotiating with,” said Mr. Gura. Japan has invested EUR 300 million in Ukraine since its independence. It comprises 0.2% of all investments. “It is a scanty amount. This is because the Ukrainian authorities are unable to respond adequately to the willingness of Japanese investors to cooperate with us,” believes Yuriy Kostenko.

According to independent member of the parliament Hanna Hopko, 2017 will be the year of Japan in Ukraine. “We should demonstrate that we are reliable friends. We have included funds [for activities within the year of Japan in Ukraine – UCMC] in the budget to show that we not only ask for help, but also are ready to support the initiatives,” noted the MP. She also stressed that bilateral cooperation should focus on the modernization of our economy, science and technologies. “This is our future. We have a very high level of education. So, we should move to a new quality of the governance,” said Ms. Hopko.

“Ukraine and Japan appeared to be on the same side of the barricade. If we support each other and strengthen our relationships, we will have something to say, and our productivity will be higher than before,” believes Mykola Beleskov, analyst of the Institute of World Policy.