Japanese PM Kishida says will follow ICC’s probe of Putin with ‘great interest’

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Saturday (March 18) that his government would follow the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation of Russian President Vladimir Putin “with great interest”. Addressing a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Tokyo, Kishida said, “The ICC has announced that it has issued an arrest warrant for (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin, and ICC Prosecutor (Karim) Khan has stated that this is the first concrete step in an ongoing investigation. Our country will continue to monitor the progress of this investigation with great interest,” the news agency Reuters reported. 

Kishida added that he and Scholz reaffirmed the importance of Japan and Germany uniting with like-minded countries to end the Russian aggression as soon as possible and to continue strict sanctions against Russia and strong support for Ukraine. 

German Chancellor Scholz, while welcoming ICC’s decision on Putin, said that no one was above the law. “I don’t have a lot to add. No one is above the law. That’s a very important pillar of international law. We all know that the International Criminal Court is an important institution which was given its mandate through international treaties,” Scholz told reporters. 

Apart from Japan and Germany, several other world leaders including United States president Joe Biden, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell hailed the decision. 

On Friday, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, alleging that Moscow’s forcible deportation of Ukrainian children is a war crime. Putin is the third head of the state to be indicted by the ICC while still in power. The ICC’s 123 member states are obliged to detain and transfer the Russian president if he sets foot on their territory. 

Ukraine said that the arrest warrant (against Putin) was just an initial step in restoring justice over Moscow’s offensive. “The world received a signal that the Russian regime is criminal and its leadership and henchmen will be held accountable,” Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said on social media. 

Kostin added that world leaders would think thrice before shaking Putin’s hand or sitting down at the negotiating table with him. 

(With inputs from agencies)


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