Japan will release about ¥26 million in emergency funds to help evacuees from Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday.
The aid will allow UNICEF and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to provide shelter, basic supplies and clean drinking water, the Foreign Ministry said.
The announcement came a day after the Group of Seven leaders met in Brussels to express support for the Kiev government, urging Russia to end its interference in the east.
“Since Russia’s declared annexation of Crimea, the number of displaced people in Ukraine has been rising. And while the situation remains difficult in eastern Ukraine, we fear the number may further increase,” Kishida said after a Cabinet meeting. “With this measure, we hope to contribute to Ukraine’s stability.”
The aid follows the €800,000 in funds Japan started releasing in April.
Since the Crimea annexation in March, Japan has been forced to perform a tricky balancing act. On the one hand, it needs to cooperate with the United States and Europe in sanctioning Russia, but on the other it must protect the relationship Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been nurturing with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the past year.
Abe hopes to improve economic ties and solve the long-stalled territorial issue involving four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido. To this end, Abe has held multiple summits with Putin, and even attended the opening ceremony for the Sochi Olympics, which was boycotted by most Western leaders.
“We want to prioritize cooperation with G-7 countries on Ukrainian and Russian questions, while maintaining political dialogue with Russia,” Kishida said.
Kishida, however, said there is no firm schedule for talks with Russia. Kishida had been due to visit Russia in April to prepare for Putin’s expected visit to Japan this autumn. The trip was postponed when Russia intervened in Ukraine.
Aid for coal-fired plants
Japanese engineers will help Ukraine hike output at its aging coal-fired power plants, the industry minister said Friday.
“Japan’s sophisticated coal power generation technology will help to strengthen Ukraine’s energy security,” Toshimitsu Motegi, minister of economy, trade and industry, said.
Japan’s move comes after G-7 leaders in Brussels warned Moscow not to use energy supplies to exert political influence.
Tokyo plans to send a team from the Japan Coal Energy Center to Ukraine to advise on coal-fired plant operations.