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Japanese PM visits Thailand


Japanese PM visits Thailand

Japanese PM visits Thailand. Photo: Mark Baker / POOL / AFP

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will visit Thailand today.

The two-day Bangkok visit is part of a wider European and Asian tour including stops in Indonesia and Vietnam. Kishida’s goal is to strengthen bilateral relations and drum up support for Ukraine in the current Russo-Ukrainian war. Thailand has supported a UN resolution calling on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine, but it has thus far refrained from imposing sanctions on Moscow.

While Kishida—who has been outspoken in criticizing and sanctioning Russia—would very much welcome punitive economic measures, Thai sanctions on Russia are highly unlikely. Of the ASEAN countries, only Singapore has levelled sanctions against Moscow. Thailand is reticent to do so because Russian tourists comprised the seventh-largest share of pre-COVID visitors to the tourist-dependent Kingdom. Russia is also a key invite to an upcoming Thai-hosted tourism summit in November.

Therefore, expect the talks to center around humanitarian assistance cooperation for Ukraine—something Bangkok strongly supports. To this end, Kishida likely seeks Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s commitment to increase humanitarian aid. This potentially means Japanese military aircraft flying this aid to NATO countries for distribution to Kyiv, thus effectively tying Bangkok into Tokyo’s fledgling  global supply chain network for Ukraine.

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