A strong international response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine is critical to deterring China from embarking on territorial conquests in Taiwan or the South China Sea, said Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi.
“China has been carefully observing the current situation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and they are paying particularly close attention to what kind of reactions the international community has been taking,” Kishi told The Post during an interview in Washington on Thursday.
The top Japanese defense official said the global response would weigh heavily on Beijing and its “actions in the Asian region going forward.”
“If the international community somehow allows or condones Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, it might send a wrong message that such actions can be tolerated in other parts of the world, including the Indo-Pacific,” Kishi said.
Tokyo, which has historically shied away from conflicts outside of Asia, has joined the United States and the European Union in imposing multiple rounds of sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine conflict. The Japanese Defense Ministry has provided Ukraine with drones, bulletproof vests and humanitarian aid, and accepted evacuees from Ukraine using Japanese aircraft. Kishi said Japan “will continue as much support as we can to Ukraine.”
When asked why Japan did not take the same tough stance on Russia in 2014 over Crimea, Kishi said the world “has changed since the annexation.”
“During the last time, the response of the international community was not as united as this time,” he said.