Photo/Illutration Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, left, and his Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi pay a visit to the Memory Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Sept. 9. (pool via AP)

Japan should clearly demonstrate its unwavering commitment to the principle that Russia's aggression against Ukraine must never be tolerated.

Japan should also tap its knowledge and experience gained through recovery from the devastation of World War II and various disasters as it helps Ukraine rebuild its seriously damaged civilian infrastructure and livelihoods.

As the nation holding the presidency of the Group of Seven leading democracies in 2023, Japan should also promote international cooperation in dealing with the war in Ukraine and its consequences.

All these challenges pose a major test for Japan’s diplomatic capabilities.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi recently visited Ukraine and met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and others.

Hayashi became the last G-7 foreign minister to visit the country and his trip inevitably came across as a delayed action. Still, the Japanese foreign minister’s travel to the country to see the situation there with his own eyes was nevertheless meaningful.

At a joint news conference with Kuleba in Kyiv, Hayashi announced plans to continue providing civilian aid to the country including products to help local people endure the cold winter.

The two countries also confirmed that they will work closely together in preparation for the Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Reconstruction, which is scheduled to be held in Tokyo early next year.

To support people's lives during wartime and promote reconstruction, it is crucial to accurately understand people's needs and provide concrete support. This cannot be achieved by the government alone.

Tackling the challenge requires the knowledge and financial resources of the private sector.

Hayashi was accompanied on his visit by business leaders including Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and president of the Rakuten Group. This opportunity should be taken to expand and upgrade Tokyo’s support for Ukraine through closer cooperation between the public and private sectors.

Collaboration with emerging and developing countries is also key.

This year’s summit of the Group of 20 major powers, held in India through Sept. 10, signaled a step backward from the G-20’s position on the issue.

The consensus declaration produced by the conference avoided condemning Russia for the war in Ukraine, with the words "most members strongly condemned the war" in Ukraine in last year's G-20 declaration being dropped.

This seems to reflect the deep division over the matter between the West and the Russia-China camp, as well as the desire of emerging countries to avoid favoring one side.

It is vital for leading democracies to make tenacious efforts to convince emerging and developing countries of the importance of upholding the principles and values that underpin the international order, such as the "rule of law" and "respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty."

For many years, Japan has continued to provide support to countries in Asia and Africa in a variety of fields, including economic aid, health care support and assistance to increase food production.

Japan should use its accumulated experience and expertise in international aid and act as a bridge between the West and emerging and developing countries.

In July, the G-7 pledged long-term support, including security, to Ukraine in a joint declaration on the matter. In line with this pledge, Japan and Ukraine agreed to begin negotiations on a bilateral document concerning the issue.

At the same time, the G-7 declaration also has a strong military overtone, as it mentions the continued provision of "security assistance and modern military equipment, across land, air, and sea domains."

But Japan is bound by its "three principles on transfer of defense equipment and technology," which restrict arms exports.

Above all else, Japan should focus on using its strengths in the civilian sector based on the experience it has gained as a solidly pacifist nation. This is also the way for Japan to gain the trust of the international community.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 12