Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to promise Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that Tokyo will closely coordinate with Kiev to help peacefully resolve the Ukraine crisis if they meet later this week on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting summit in Milan, according to Japanese sources.
Abe plans to tell Poroshenko that Japan will not accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea in southern Ukraine, while calling for stricter compliance with a cease-fire reached last month between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, according to the sources.
The meeting is apparently aimed at easing U.S. concerns over Japan’s conciliatory approach to Russia amid hopes in Tokyo for advancing negotiations with Moscow over the four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido that are claimed by Japan, the sources said.
Japan and Ukraine are making arrangements for the first meeting between Abe and Poroshenko during the two-day ASEM summit that starts Thursday.
Abe is also likely to express Japan’s intention to continue providing financial support to Ukraine.
But he is expected to avoid making any blunt criticism of Russia, given his personal relationship with President Vladimir Putin and his desire to settle the territorial dispute, which has kept Japan and Russia from concluding a post-World War II peace treaty.
The Japanese government is seeking to arrange an informal meeting between Abe and Putin while both leaders are in Italy. The two have met face to face five times since Abe returned as prime minister in December 2012.