Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has offered Japan’s help in any international investigation into the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines jet in eastern Ukraine.
Abe made the remarks during a speech in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Saturday. Abe said Japan is ready to cooperate with the international community in whatever way it can, NTV reported Sunday.
Abe also cautioned that it would not be prudent to antagonize Russia and said it is better to maintain a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Abe has held five summits with Putin since he took office in December 2012.
Referring to Ukraine, the prime minister said the conflict should be settled through dialogue and under international law, rather than war, NTV reported.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida returned to Japan on Friday after a four-day visit to Ukraine. Prior to the shooting down of the Malaysian plane, which the West blames on pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, the U.S., Europe and other allies ramped up sanctions against Russia.
The tug-of-war over Ukraine threatens to derail Abe’s moves toward rapprochement with Russia. Yet Japan must toe the line on sanctions: It cannot spurn its main ally the U.S., nor European partners.
Japan’s chief government spokesman offered only vague support for the coordinated American and European moves targeting Russian energy firms, financial institutions, arms suppliers and four individuals.
“We are watching the situation of the EU and U.S.,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a regular briefing. “Working with the international community is our stance regarding Ukraine, so we would like to take appropriate measures in line with that attitude.”
Japan has imposed sanctions on Russia, but in a very limited way. It has suspended bilateral talks on some issues, and imposed an entry visa ban on 23 individuals, whom it hasn’t publicly named.
In his speech Saturday, Abe said he intends to keep a dialogue with Putin and has invited the Russian leader to make a state visit to Japan this year.