Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday that he will invite Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to a Group of Seven online summit on the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of the country later this week.
Kishida said at a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that Japan will on Friday hold the G-7 video summit, in which the leaders are expected to reaffirm their unity in tackling Russia's aggression against its neighbor.
It would be the first G-7 summit hosted by Kishida. In the virtual gathering, the G-7 nations of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union, are likely to agree to continue supporting Ukraine.
In the run-up to the video summit, Kishida said in his speech at a symposium in Tokyo that Japan will provide $5.5 billion in additional financial aid for the reconstruction of infrastructure in the country, destroyed by Russia.
The online meeting comes as Japan is consolidating relations with the G-7 with fears growing that Russia will launch a large-scale offensive against Ukraine in the spring, while Kishida is paving the way for the success of the summit in Hiroshima in May.
Kishida, a veteran lawmaker representing a constituency in Hiroshima, is slated to host an in-person G-7 summit for three days from May 19 in the western Japan city devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb in August 1945.
At the gathering, Kishida plans to pitch his vision of a world without nuclear weapons amid lingering concerns that Russia could use one against Ukraine in the war, sources close to him said.
The Japanese premier said in the speech on Monday that he is considering visiting the atomic bomb museum in Hiroshima with his G-7 counterparts on the sidelines of the summit. If realized, it would be the first time the G-7 leaders have visited the museum together.
Kishida, who has been keen to bolster Japan's global influence in supporting Ukraine as this year's G-7 chair, has also voiced eagerness to visit the Eastern European nation for talks with Zelenskyy if the right conditions are in place.
A Japanese government official said it might be difficult to arrange Kishida's trip to Ukraine for security reasons. Ties between Tokyo and Moscow have sharply deteriorated over the past year.
On Monday, however, the White House said U.S. President Joe Biden visited the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, in a surprise move ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"I am in Kyiv today to meet with President Zelenskyy and reaffirm our unwavering and unflagging commitment to Ukraine's democracy, sovereignty, and territorial integrity," Biden said in a statement.
Among the G-7 countries, British, Canadian, French, German, Italian and U.S. leaders have already visited Ukraine since the war began last year. Biden also held a summit with Zelenskyy in Washington in December.
Ukraine, meanwhile, has indicated that Zelenskyy may visit Hiroshima if Japan invites him to participate in the G-7 summit.
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