Japan’s senior vice minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology will head to Sochi, Russia to represent the country in the opening ceremonies of the Winter Paralympics. Yoshitaka Sakurada has confirmed his departure for Russia to reporters after a meeting with the senior vice ministers of the government.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe treaded the subject of sending a representative to the Paralympics carefully as news of Russia’s invasion of Crimea, southern Ukraine spread. At a House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting, Abe said that his decision to send a representative to the opening ceremony would be determined “by carefully considering moves within the international community.” While Russia and Japan have a long-standing territorial dispute over the Northern Territories, recent talks and visits by Abe to Moscow have shown a positive change in the direction of their bilateral ties. His decision to be cautious in sending a representative shows Japan’s willingness to prioritize and place importance on the developing ties with Russia, despite other countries’ strong criticism of their involvement in the Ukraine crisis.
Japan eventually decided on sending a representative and Sakurada will leave for Sochi on Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile, Japan’s ally, the United States and Canada have decided not to send representatives for their governments in protest of Russia’s move amidst the ongoing tensions in Ukraine. Japanese officials earlier expressed concern over the latest developments in the region, after Russia decided to send military troops to Crimea.
[via Global POst]
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