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GOJ leaders travel to Southeast, Central Asia to strengthen coalition against Russia 

All national papers reported over the weekend on the ongoing tours of Southeast Asia by Prime Minister Kishida and Central Asia by Foreign Minister Hayashi, saying that the main purpose of their overseas travel during the Golden Week holidays has been to enlist each host government’s support in opposing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. 


In his meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Jakarta on Friday, the Japanese leader called for the country to take a concerted approach with Japan and other Western nations to help Ukraine push back against the Russian forces. According to Mainichi, as the leader of the only Asian member of the G7, Kishida feels strongly that Japan has a “responsibility” to lobby its neighbors to ratchet up the pressure on Moscow. The daily said, however, that Kishida’s diplomatic offensive may end up being counterproductive since the ASEAN nations may see his diplomatic outreach as an attempt to impose Western values on them in light of the group’s cherished principle of not intervening in the domestic affairs of other countries. 


Noting that the Indonesian leader, as the chair of the G20, disclosed on the same day as his meeting with Kishida that Russia is interested in taking part in the annual summit to be held in Bali in November, Sankei claimed that this announcement signified Jakarta’s intent to maintain neutrality. 


On Sunday, Kishida met with his Vietnamese counterpart in Hanoi to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Although the two leaders affirmed the importance of respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity, achieving an immediate truce, carrying out humanitarian assistance, and not tolerating the threat or use of nuclear or chemical weapons, the Vietnamese official did not mention Russia by name. The Japanese leader told the press afterward: “We understand that the Vietnamese are in a difficult position on account of their traditional ties with Moscow. I appreciate the country’s decision to offer $500,000 in humanitarian aid for Ukraine as a positive first step.”  


Meanwhile, Hayashi visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on Friday for meetings with his counterparts there, during which they agreed to coordinate closely in responding to the war in Ukraine. The Japanese minister also held talks with the Mongolian foreign minister in Ulaanbaatar on Sunday to exchange views on Ukraine. According to Hayashi, the Mongolian official underscored the importance of an immediate ceasefire to ease the prolonged tension.

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