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Tadashi Narabayashi

【#1019】Kishida Should Give Instructions for Supporting Ukraine

Tadashi Narabayashi / 2023.03.08 (Wed)

March 6, 2023

Russian forces have made missile attacks on power stations and transmission lines in Ukraine almost daily this winter, continuing to destroy Ukrainian electricity infrastructure. Japan’s government and private sectors have been united to send power generators to Ukraine to help Ukrainians survive the cold winter. But Ukraine calls for further support, citing severe electricity shortages.

10,000 power generators wanted

“Even though we are going towards spring, we still want 7,000 or 10,000 power generators. Small ones will be okay,” a senior Ukrainian embassy official in Tokyo told me. “Medical doctors are performing operations on injured people in hospital surgery rooms without power and basements for evacuation, relying on smartphone lights. There are many places where power generators are required.”

According to a press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 23, the Japanese government has decided to provide Ukraine with 262 power generators, including the first 25 units that were transported through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to Ukraine last December. Since January 20, the remaining 237 units have been arriving in Ukraine. “These generators are to be handed over to companies of electric power, water and gas supply in Ukraine, and to be utilized for securing energy sector,” the ministry said.

Most of the generators provided by the Japanese government were made by Yamaha Motor Co., which announced that 215 small power generators delivered to JICA arrived in Ukraine on January 20. Denyo Co. said it shipped 12 larger engine power generators of eight types to Ukraine. Rakuten Inc. contributed 500 power generators in addition to 1 billion yen in humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Plagued with electricity shortages in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, Ukraine experienced frequent outage, which stroke a devastating blow to its heavy industries including steelmakers and shipbuilders. Russian forces’ destruction of electricity infrastructure has brought about the second electricity crisis for Ukraine.

Potential missile attacks on Ukrainian nuclear power plants could not only deepen electricity shortages but also bring about widespread radioactive contamination. Concerned about such event, many officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have voluntarily stayed at Ukrainian nuclear power plants since last December to serve as human shield to prevent Russian attacks.

When I visited a Swedish nuclear power plant before, a plant worker pointed at a portable power generator made by Honda Motor Co. and emphasized its usefulness, saying that the power generator would be used to open the filter vent valve to filter radioactive materials and avoid local contamination if external power source were to be lost.

Air purifiers also requested

The senior Ukrainian embassy official also said Ukraine wanted air purifiers to eliminate viruses and bacteria at schools, hospitals, local government offices and subway stations in the event of potential Russian indiscriminate terror attacks.
In response to such requests, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida should instruct relevant government agencies to provide Ukraine with power generators, air purifiers and any other goods Japan can provide. He should take leadership towards a Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima in May.

Tadashi Narabayashi is a specially appointed professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and a director at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.