Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely to decline Russia’s invitation to attend celebrations in Moscow on May 9 marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, government sources said Thursday.
Due to suspected further Russian involvement in the Ukraine conflict, U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have decided not to take part in the events. South Korean President Park Geun-hye is also not expected to attend.
There is “no choice for Tokyo but to skip the event” under the circumstances, one government source said.
By deciding not to attend, Abe can stress the importance Japan places on its alliance with the United States when he travels to Washington next week for summit talks with President Barack Obama.
Tokyo is likely to select an envoy to send to the events and will convey its hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Japan within the year, another source said.
The Japanese government may also try to arrange for Abe to visit Russia sometime this year in an attempt to minimize the impact on Russo-Japanese ties of his not attending next month’s festivities.
Abe may visit Russia “in the not-too-distance future” to console the souls of Japanese who lost their lives while detained in Siberia after the war, according to a source close to bilateral relations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has decided to attend the ceremonies in May and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is also reported to be planning to do so.