Japan to send protective masks, clothing to Ukraine

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Japan to send protective masks, clothing to Ukraine

TokYO Kyodo Japan will provide Ukraine with protective masks and clothing against chemical weapons, as well as commercial drones, to support the country's ongoing war with Russia, the Defense MinistryDefense Ministry said Tuesday.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters that the ministry will ship supplies via commercial flights as soon as they are ready, because the decision was made upon a request from the Ukrainian government.

The move comes amid growing concerns that Russia might use chemical weapons in Ukraine as Ukrainians continue to put up an unexpectedly strong resistance to the invasion that has lasted nearly two months.

Kishi said at a press conference that they will continue to give as much support as possible to the Ukrainian government.

The Japanese military offered bulletproof vests, helmets and winter battle uniforms to the war-torn nation last month after the government revised its guidelines on the transfer of defense equipment to make the shipment possible.

Kishi said that of the latest supplies destined for Ukraine, only the protective masks and clothing are defense equipment. An official from the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency said that the camera-equipped drones are intended for surveillance use and owned by Japan's defense forces, but they are not considered defense equipment as they are commercial, off-the- shelf products.

As part of its economic sanctions against Moscow, Japan imposed an import ban on 38 items from Russia, including vodka and some lumber products.

The banned products are expected to be worth around 16 billion yen $125 million and account for about 1.1 percent of Japan's imports from the country.

Trade, Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda said the Japanese people are concerned about the effects of Ukraine crisis on their lives and business activities, as well as Japan's sanctions against Russia.

"We will thoroughly study emergency measures to respond quickly to the effects on people's living and economic activities," Hagiuda said last month, following instructions by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to compile an economic stimulus package.

The Japanese government has taken punitive measures against Russia in line with the United States and European countries after Moscow invaded Ukraine in late February.