Speaking after a meeting at NATO's headquarters in Brussels, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged Russia to respect the results of the upcoming presidential elections in Ukraine //
BRUSSELS, May 6 — Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe and NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen agreed Tuesday the Ukraine crisis was a threat to global security which must be addressed.
"Let me explain the basic position of Japan. We will not tolerate any change of status-quo through intimidation or force. This is not only applicable to Europe or Ukraine.
This is applicable to East Asia and it is applicable to the whole world. This is something that the whole world has to consider.
From that view point, together with G7 countries, Japan is issuing a strong message and we have come with two rounds of measures.
As I said during at a NAC meeting (North Atlantic Council) on May 25, there will be a presidential election in Ukraine, and regarding the legitimacy of that election, it is important that the parties recognise the legitimacy of the result of the elections. Russia must accept the legitimacy of this election as well," Abe told journalists.
Both men stressed the importance of cooperation between NATO and Japan, which since World War II has had a ‘Self Defence Force’ with a limited role rather than an army which can be deployed abroad on military missions.
As such, Japan is not a member of the alliance but counts as a partner, working with it in counter-piracy and anti-terrorist efforts, as well as supporting its mission in Afghanistan.
As Russia rejected a new peace initiative and fears of open war mounted in Ukraine, Rasmussen said the situation amounted to the “gravest crisis to European security since the end of the Cold War.”
The crisis is deepening in the run-up to May 25 elections, with some 40,000 Russian troops massed on the border with eastern Ukraine where the Kiev government is under pressure from pro-Kremlin militias.
“This is not just about Ukraine,” Rasmussen said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, together with Germany's Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday (April 30), that leading industrial powers would stand united on further sanctions against Russia if needed, despite Moscow's threat to retaliate against foreign energy companies.
Both countries are struggling to strike a balance between admonishing Moscow for annexing Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and failing to control pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, and looking after their business interests and energy supplies.
The European Union, Japan and the United States have placed visa bans and asset freezes on dozens of individuals, some close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but have held back on wider trade sanctions despite an escalation of the crisis in Ukraine.
Both countries also emphasised the importance of Ukraine carrying out free elections on May 25 to give people the democratic choice of who should succeed pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich, who fled Kiev in February in the midst of bloody protests.