Japan PM to call Ukraine leader over invasion fears: media

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a lower house budget committee session on measures against the Covid-19 coronavirus at parliament in Tokyo on February 7, 2022. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will speak with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later Tuesday, local media reported, as Tokyo expressed “grave concerns” about the risk of a Russian invasion.

There was no immediate official confirmation of the call, which Japanese media said would happen on Tuesday evening local time, citing government sources.

The call comes as Russia appeared to open the door to a diplomatic resolution of the Ukraine standoff, and with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz due in Moscow later in the day.

Kishida said Tuesday that Japan was “watching the situation with grave concern.”

“We’ll continue to monitor the situation with high vigilance, while coordinating closely with G7 countries to deal with any developments appropriately,” he said at a meeting between government ministers and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

On Monday, a statement by finance ministers from the G7 group of most developed nations warned Russia faced tough sanctions if it proceeded with military action against Ukraine.

The statement said the allies stood ready to “collectively impose economic and financial sanctions which will have massive and immediate consequences on the Russian economy.”

Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Tuesday stressed Tokyo’s support for “the integrity of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territory,” but declined to give details on what form any sanctions might take.

“If a Russian invasion occurs, Japan will deal with it appropriately, including through imposing sanctions, in response to what has actually happened and in cooperation with the international community including the G7,” he told reporters.

Japan’s defence minister meanwhile warned of an increased Russian naval presence in the Sea of Japan and the southern part of the Sea of Okhotsk.

“It is thought that they intend to show off the capability to operate in the East and West, along with the Russian military’s recent movement around Ukraine,” Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said in a tweet.

© Agence France-Presse