Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged Monday to continue offering reconstruction support to war-torn Ukraine in collaboration with the private sector, leveraging its experience and technological know-how in recovering from earthquakes.

The Japanese government said it will provide Ukraine with 15.8 billion yen ($105 million) in grant aid for countermeasures against landmines and unexploded ordnance, as well as for the restoration of electricity and energy infrastructure.

At the Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Growth and Reconstruction held in Tokyo just days ahead of the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of its neighbor, Kishida said the situation is "not easy" but that helping Kyiv recover is an "investment in the future."

Japan's hosting of such a gathering in Tokyo indicated that Kishida's government is eager to demonstrate its determination to extend financial and business support for Ukraine, as the Asian country cannot support it militarily like Western nations.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivers remarks at the Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Growth and Reconstruction in Tokyo on Feb. 19, 2024. (Pool photo)(Kyodo)

During the one-day meeting, Kishida and his Ukrainian counterpart Denys Shmyhal witnessed the signing of more than 50 memorandums of cooperation between the public and private sectors of the two countries in a range of fields.

The areas include infrastructure rebuilding, demining, agricultural expansion, improvement of the humanitarian situation, development of biotechnology, industry and information technology, and governance enhancement, according to the government.

In his keynote speech, Kishida said the two nations will conclude a treaty to eliminate double taxation and start negotiations to revise an investment pact to enable Japanese firms to join reconstruction projects in Ukraine.

He emphasized that Japan, which has often suffered from powerful earthquakes and other natural disasters, can make its "unique contribution" to Ukraine.

Kishida added his government will establish an office of the Japan External Trade Organization in Kyiv to bolster business ties between the two countries, with the Foreign Ministry saying Tokyo has eased its travel restrictions to boost investment in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was scheduled to deliver remarks via a video message, but this was canceled, with Kyiv not elaborating on the reason.

Shmyhal, however, told Kishida during their bilateral meeting later in the day that Zelenskyy is thankful for Japan's cooperation and support. The Japanese prime minister said Tokyo will try to ramp up momentum for global assistance to Ukraine.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R) shakes hands with his Ukrainian counterpart Denys Shmyhal at the premier's office in Tokyo on Feb. 19, 2024. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

In his address earlier on Monday, Shmyhal called on Kishida, who traveled to Ukraine in March 2023 for talks with Zelenskyy before hosting the Group of Seven summit in May in Hiroshima, to revisit Ukraine.

Kishida and Shmyhal reaffirmed in a joint communique that intensifying sanctions against Russia is a crucial and effective measure to deter Moscow's military activities.

The conference involving about 300 government and corporate officials from Japan and Ukraine was held as concern is mounting that support for Kyiv from Western nations may wane, particularly with Russia seemingly committed to a war of attrition.

A woman looks into an ambulance outside an apartment building in Kyiv on Feb. 7, 2024, after the structure was hit by a Russian attack. (Kyodo)

In the United States, opposition by Republicans to offer more aid to Ukraine prior to the U.S. presidential election in November has resulted in delays for the administration of President Joe Biden to reach a deal for the latest funding package for Kyiv.

Japan, one of the key supporters of Ukraine, has shown its commitment to supplying financial assistance to Kyiv as the provision of military equipment is restricted under its war-renouncing Constitution.

In a speech at another event in Tokyo, Shmyhal said Ukraine is considering offering preferential treatment to Japanese companies that contribute to the country's reconstruction.

At the G7 summit in his home constituency of Hiroshima, Kishida confirmed with other leaders that they will maintain "unwavering support" for Ukraine, with Zelenskyy participating in sessions on the closing day of the three-day gathering.

The World Bank has estimated the cost of rebuilding Ukraine to be $486 billion over the next decade, which Kyiv is likely to fund through loans, representing business opportunities for firms across the globe, including in Japan.

As Japanese citizens have been advised by their government not to visit Ukraine, calls are growing from the private sector to relax the advisory to allow participation in reconstruction projects.

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