Photo/Illutration Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at a news conference on Feb. 24, the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Koichi Ueda)

On the first anniversary of the Russian invasion, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged to provide assistance to Ukraine in Japan’s own "unique way" as allowed under the nation's restrictive arms export policy. 

But he stopped short of providing specific details of what any new support would entail. 

At his news conference on Feb. 24, Kishida repeated a comment he made in June 2022 in saying, “Ukraine might represent the East Asia of tomorrow.”

He stressed that Japan would implement all support measures it has previously announced and added, “With the world now at a historic turning point, Japan will exercise diplomatic efforts by taking advantage of its unique position in the world.”

Ukraine has called for greater military support to help it combat Russia, but Japan’s restrictive three principles on the export of weapons severely limits what it can provide. So far, it has only sent such items as bulletproof vests and drones to Ukraine, but no weapons that could kill Russian troops. 

Kishida on Feb. 20 announced what would constitute a guarantee on World Bank loans to Ukraine that would total $5.5 billion yen (about 737 billion yen).

Kishida also said he was still considering visiting Ukraine. Japan is the host for this year’s Group of Seven summit meeting, but it is also the only member whose leader has not traveled to Kyiv.

Among the measures already implemented by Japan to support Ukraine have been the provision of emergency generators, heating equipment and blankets for relief against the brutal winter as well as grain storage tanks.

Having supported Cambodia in its land mine removal efforts, Tokyo has cooperated with Phnom Penh in training Ukrainian government officials to use mine detectors in their native land.

But despite the recent additional aid announcement, Japan still lags behind the other G-7 nations in the support provided to Ukraine.

According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy in Germany, for the year until January, Japan’s support totaled 1.05 billion euros (about 151 billion yen, or $1.1 billion), or about 1 percent the amount provided by the United States, the leading support nation.

(This article was compiled from reports by Tamiyuki Kihara and Takashi Narazaki.)