What Ukraine can expect from G7 summit: Japanese envoy tells in exclusive interview
Japan’s Ambassador to Ukraine Shigeki Sumi says Ukraine issue on the Group of Seven agenda
Today our guest Ambassador of Japan to Ukraine Shigeki Sumi will speak about G7 summit, which will take place on May 26-27 this week - in particular, about those issues related to Ukraine, which will be submitted for consideration of G7 members and Japan's attitude to this issues, and the ways of solving them. He also will express his opinion on sanctions against Russia and the conditions for their removal or prolonging, will speak about Japan's assistance to Ukraine in various fields, and how can Ukrainians who want to get visa-free travel to Europe, can receive the visa-free regime with Japan instead.
Watch the video:
- The first question is – the PM Shinzo Abe said that on the G7 summit there will be questions about Ukraine discussed. What in particular kind of questions is Japan going to rise?
Of course, for G7 members the issue of Ukraine is one of the most important issues we will discuss in a context of G7 summit this week. And it is very important for G7 - how to solve Ukrainian issue. And there are certain issues to be discussed – first – what is a way of solving this question, in particular the Minsk agreement as an only way to resolve the issue and its support by the G7 countries; second – whether sanctions against Russia should be continued or not? And the third – whether Russian annexation of Crimea should be condemned or not – and also Russian foreign destabilizing situation in Eastern Ukraine should be allowed or not – and also the Ukrainian domestic reform. It’s important how this reform is linked to main topics G7 leaders should discuss in a context of Ukrainian issue.
- You said whether sanctions should be prolonged or not – what is the opinion of Japan?
Sanctions are connected with the Minsk agreement and the occupation of Crimea. So that means as longer Russia does not honor the Minsk agreement, as long as Russia continues to occupy the Crimea, sanctions should be continued. As I said sanctions are strongly connected with those issue.
- Japan is the biggest financial donor for Ukraine. During the last 2 years Japan donated the amount of 2 billion dollars. What is the reason for such a great support?
For Japan issue of Ukraine is important, because it has the global implication. It’s not an ordinary issue. This is not an issue just for Europe, but this is a global implication issue. Because now the international community should uphold principle that there is nothing should be resolved by force. Only by peaceful means. And this basic position of Japan is applied to the issue of Ukraine. I mean, Japan’s position is very clear – first, we should not allow any foreign intervention to Ukraine – so that means firstly we will continue our sanctions against Russia as well against those illegal annexation and the foreign intervention – and the second – we should make Ukraine strong economically. I think that will reduce foreign intervention, that is the reason why Japan gives assistance to Ukraine. But of course Ukraine should do its own homework. That means reform. Because the reason why Japan gives assistance is to make Ukraine strong. But Ukraine itself should work for itself, such as fighting corruption and implementing economic reform, and stimulating privatization of the state ownership. So I hope Japanese assistance goes in parallel with this reform.
- In which fields does Japan assist most of all with these donations?
The biggest Japanese assistance goes to Bortnichi aeration station which cleans Dnipro river which is contaminated. Cleaning up the river is good not only for the people to drink but also for the agriculture to use clean water. That’s the biggest donations. And also people noticed that now Ukrainian police drive Toyota Prius. That also was donated by the government of Japan. And look at the Ukrainian metro. Already new energy efficient metro rolling stock has been introduced, also donated by Japanese government. And in the Eastern part of Ukraine Japan with UN and other international organizations, as ICRS - Red Cross - conducts a lot of humanitarian assistance just as rebuild and repair hospitals and schools which were damaged by the shelling. And also Japan conducts income generating sort of projects that means – one day I got a very nice letter from lady who runs the shoe repair shop and who left Donetsk area and came to Kyiv but didn’t have money to start new business. And through the UN Japan donated around 10 000 dollars. They rented the shop and started their shoe repair shop in Kyiv and seem to be successful in business. That is we are doing.
- The last question is about visa-free regime. Ukraine is expected to get free visas to European Union. Are there any chances for Ukrainians to travel without visas to Japan?
Now the exchange of people between Ukraine and Japan is very important. And so far Japan doesn’t have any visa-free regime with any former Soviet Union countries, but for the first time with Ukraine Japan decided to have the visa-free regime for diplomatic visa holders. Maybe people would think it’s a small step but it’s actually very big, because for the first time Japan and Ukraine agreed to have a visa-free regime at all. And it will start in June and I hope this will be the first step to complete visa-free regime between Japan and Ukraine.
- That is a fresh decision, which was taken, right? About diplomatic visa-free regime?
Exactly. It was agreed when the President Poroshenko visited Japan in April and already signed the document of exchanges between two governments – this will start in June.
- But what are the main points countries should do to get the visa free regime? How do you think, is Ukraine ready, maybe in couple of years to get it?
I really hope so, that our agreement… let’s try with diplomatic passport holder visa free system, and we will start it and once we’ll say that it’s working very nice - we’ll expand this regime to the other passport holders, I hope eventually to the all Ukrainian citizens.
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