Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio is heading to Ukraine on Tuesday for an unannounced visit, NHK reports, citing country officials.
The government and ruling party officials say Kishida has already left India for Ukraine.
The prime minister is expected to arrive in Ukraine later in the day for summit talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Update 06:06. Kishida intends to express support for Ukraine during his visit, Bloomberg reports, citing a statement from the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
The Japanese premier had been on a trip to India, where he condemned Russia’s invasion in a policy speech and sought to bring Prime Minister Narendra Modi closer to the G-7 nations’ position on the war.
The visit is the most visible symbol yet of support from Tokyo for Zelenskiy, who has spoken with Kishida at online conferences and addressed Japan’s parliament through a video link in March of last year. Japanese leaders rarely travel to places where there is a pressing security risk.
After the trip to Ukraine, Kishida will visit Poland, the ministry said.
Japan threw its support behind Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, imposing sanctions and sending military equipment — albeit nonlethal — in a break with traditions it has maintained under its pacifist constitution.
Surveys show Kishida has the backing of much of the public on the Ukrainian issue.
Japan currently holds the presidency of the Group of Seven, and the G7 summit will be held in Hiroshima in May.