Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday visited Bucha, a town near Kyiv where Russian forces were accused of committing widespread atrocities, in a trip hailed as “historic” by Ukraine.
An AFP journalist in the town reported Kishida had arrived as part of an official visit and ahead of an expected meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Russian troops were accused of massacring civilians in the capital region suburb of Bucha, which they occupied for several weeks in early 2022.
Moscow denies the accusation, claiming the atrocities in Bucha were staged.
Ukrainian officials praised Kishida’s visit.
“This historic visit is a sign of solidarity and strong cooperation between (Ukraine and Japan),” said First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova, who goes by the name Emine Dzheppar on Twitter.
“We are grateful to Japan for its strong support and contribution to our future victory,” she said, posting photos of Kishida on a train platform in Kyiv.
Kishida is the last Group of Seven leader to visit Ukraine and has come under increasing pressure to make the trip, as Japan hosts the G7 summit this May.
His trip comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Moscow for talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, with the Ukraine conflict high on the agenda.
Japan has joined Western allies in sanctioning Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, while offering support to Kyiv.
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