Letter from Ambassador in March - “Ukraine- cooperation between Japan and Denmark”
I hope that this letter will find you well when cherry blossoms begin to bloom in Denmark whereas they are in full bloom in Japan.
（Cherry blossom in Copenhagen on 25 March）
One month has passed since Russia invaded Ukraine. Denmark and Japan with like-minded countries have made and since strengthened assistance to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, continuing to make efforts for solution of the problem. In Denmark, the recent media reports have been almost dominated by Ukraine and it seems as if COVID-19 has become something of the past.
Maybe my perception is affected by my previous assignment to the Embassy of Japan in Moscow from 2009 to 2012, when I visited some historic venues such as the place of the Yalta conference in Crimea, Ukraine as well as met Russian officials and businessmen originally from Ukraine in Moscow.
1 Japanese and Danish diplomatic efforts in response to Russian invasion to Ukraine
On 24 March, Mr. KISHIDA Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan attended in person the G7 Summit in Brussels. He explained the latest Japan’s assistance to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia to the G7 leaders, who reaffirmed the determination to be united to restore peace and stability and issued Leaders’ Statement.
During his stay in Brussels, PM Kishida met the leaders of the EU and agreed to act in solidarity, sharing the recognition that the invasion brings about a serious situation which undermines the foundation of the whole international community including Asia. PM Kishida also met Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, appreciating each other’s actions and reaffirming the continued collaborations.
（On 24 March in Brussels, PM Kishida’s meetings with the EU leaders and NATO Secretary General）
On the same day in Brussel, there were European Council and the NATO Summit which Ms. Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark attended. On 6 March, Denmark reached the new defense agreement among political parties to increase substantially its defense budget and to hold the national referendum to terminate the opt out from the defense cooperation with the EU on 1 June. The agreement will add to the already ongoing enhanced Danish military cooperation to the NATO for its activities both in air and ocean in the Baltic Sea.
（The political agreement on defense on 6 March）(PM’s visit to the NATO in Poland on 9 March ©Mette Frederiksen Facebook)
Just before the summit diplomacy in Brussels, in New York, Japan and Denmark with like-minded countries became the co-sponsors of the resolution for humanitarian assistance to Ukraine at the United Nations extraordinary General Assembly and succeeded to adopt the resolution, thus enlarged network of international cooperation.
2. Measures on the displaced persons from Ukraine
In Japan there are about 1,900 Ukrainian nationals living before the Russian invasion. The Government of Japan decided to receive the displaced persons from Ukraine in response to the present situation. A considerable number of Ukrainians have already started to arrive in Japan. We wish that peace will be restored in Ukraine and they can return home safely.
It is said that there have been more than 30,000 Ukrainians living in Denmark, many of whom have engaged in agriculture sector. Denmark has made a new special law to accept Ukrainians and now is preparing to receive over 100,000 persons. The Embassy of Japan has already assisted some Ukrainians who applied to go to Japan through Denmark.
3. Impact on economy
In March, Bank of Japan stated that the Japan’s economy has picked up as a trend, however, in the wake of Ukraine, global financial and capital markets have been volatile and prices of commodities such as crude oil have risen significantly, and future developments warrant attention. Some Japanese think-tanks predict downward adjustment for this year’s growth. Despite such situations, Japan has decided to provide its excessive portion of Liquified Natural Gas to Europe in response to the request made by the EU. It has been appreciated by the EU leaders. In mid to long terms, on top of Japan’s actions toward the decarbonized society by 2050, there will be further accelerated green transition based on energy security requirements, which will lead to new positive business opportunities between Japanese and Danish companies.
In Denmark, Mr. Nicolai Wammen, Finance Minister announced three different scenarios for the Danish economy as a consequence of the crisis in Ukraine. Compared with 2.8% GDP growth for 2022 as of December 2021, the intermediate scenario predicts 1.6%, the harsh scenario 0% and the mild scenario 2.2%. As the Finance Minister also stated that the starting point for the Danish economy is strong, and also due to early transition to renewables such as wind power which lessened the Danish dependence on Russian gas, it seems that from 2023 a steadfast economic recovery is expected. 4. Continued cooperation between Japan and Denmark
4. Continued cooperation between Japan and Denmark
As described above, Japan and Denmark have collaborated bilaterally and through the EU, NATO, UN for the restoration of peace in Ukraine. Both countries firmly believe that any attempt to change the status quo by unilateral use of force should never be accepted. That is why Japan referred the Situation in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court whereas Denmark increased its financial contribution to the ICC. Denmark and Japan share fundamental values such as rule of law, democracy among others, and thus both countries cooperate with each other through the Free and Open Indo Pacific on various occasions including the visit by Mr. Jeppe Kofod, Foreign Minister of Denmark to Japan in November last year. Both countries share the recognition that the situation in Ukraine is not only within Europe but also the one which would undermine the foundation of the whole international community including Asia. Japan and Denmark will continue to cooperate further step by step in this regard.
Recently I attended the Ukrainian and G7 Ambassadors’ meetings at the German Embassy in Copenhagen prior to the G7 Summit in Brussels. The Ukrainian Ambassador expressed his gratitude for the cooperation from G7 and urged us to continue to do so for an early restoration of peace. On 23 March, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed to the Japanese Diet as well. The G7 Ambassadors here in Copenhagen will continue to meet.
（The G7 and Ukrainian Ambassadors’ meeting on 25 February and 18 March in Copenhagen）
Last but not least, I would like to reiterate my sincere gratitude to the warm words and considerations expressed by the Danish friends and colleagues about the earthquake in Tohoku region in Japan this month soon after commemorating the 11th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. I wish people in Tohoku region well. I look forward to seeing the readers of this letter next month somewhere in Denmark or on this page.