Former Foreign Affairs Minister Makiko Tanaka Showed Rage Against China | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Makiko Tanaka Showed Rage Against China

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Former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka makes a stand. Makiko’s eyes were sharp as she looked at the war and the future of Japan when interviewed by FRIDAY Digital Photo: Natsuki Sakai/Afro

It was on the evening of June 15, shortly after the Diet session closed, that former Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka sent a direct message to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, her colleague who had been elected to the post.

“Japan has provided monetary help and accepted the refugees, but that should not be the end of the story. There are many people in Ukraine who have been injured in the war. I want them to receive high quality medical care in Japan. They can’t go to hospitals, they don’t have medicine, and they can’t sleep at night because of the pain. We want Japan to accept these people. So, please issue them visas. Japan should be there for them not only when Ukraine is suffering from the ravages of war, but also after the war.”


With these words, she passionately conveyed her thoughts to Prime Minister Kishida. Makiko and Kishida often talk on the phone. Prime Minister Kishida told Makiko,

“Japanese medical assistance, yes, we have to do it.”

As one would expect from a prime minister with the ability to listen.

Japan’s “Ukrainian support” which was so much in the air immediately after the Russian military invasion, is cooling down, even if the war is still going on.

Makiko Tanaka Makes a Move.

Finally, on June 16, Makiko Tanaka launched “Mirai,” a non-profit organization to support displaced people in Ukraine.

“As soon as I heard about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I talked with architect Tadao Ando about how we could help Ukraine. Mr. Ando was quick to go to the Ukrainian embassy and offer 10 million yen in support. And I thought to myself, what can I do to help? I also thought about making it possible for people injured by the war to be accepted and treated in Japan.”

In response to the launch of the NPO, Sergiy Korsunsky, Ukraine’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Japan, said, “I am very pleased to see the excellent rehabilitation services provided by Japan to the Ukrainian people.”

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Japan for making its excellent rehabilitation a project of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. When Ukraine recovers, this assistance will be a ‘big sunflower’.”

“I Hate Fighting” – A Direct Interview with Makiko.

We spoke with Makiko, who is angry at Russia, thinking of the Ukrainian people whose cities have been destroyed and injured, and scolding China for its political posturing.

-So there is more that Japan can do in terms of humanitarian aid to Ukraine?

“You have to look to postwar Ukraine by providing medical resources and helping injured people reintegrate into society,” she said. “And Prime Minister Kishida needs to be magnanimous about nuclear deterrence, not only to Russia, but even to the United States. Somehow, we have to end this war as soon as possible.”

-China’s stance seems to lean toward Russia.

“I was interviewed by the People’s Daily after the war started in Ukraine. I made it clear that I did not want China to be pro-Russian. Then the editor-in-chief of the People’s Daily (or Tokyo bureau chief) said he had to contact the home country. After that, the article said, ‘None’. That’s not right! Even if it’s small, publish it! I argued with him. Japan must stand firm and say what it wants to say to China.”

Her husband, former Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka, who has always stood by Makiko’s side, revealed, 

Every day, she [Makiko] is on the phone with someone about Ukraine, Russia, and China. She wants to somehow stop the violence in Russia and to make China change its support for Russia. When I see the images of the affected women and children, they are devastated and are in need of help. I encouraged her, saying, ‘You were the Minister of Foreign Affairs, so it’s time to use the diplomatic channels you had to do your job.’ I want to work with her and help Ukraine. Because her thoughts and my thoughts are aligned.”


It has been 113 days since Russia invaded Ukraine. Makiko had been winding up the voices of those who were waiting for her return to politics, calling it an “old woman’s holiday”. Now, perhaps, the time has finally come for her to make her move.

  • Interview and text by Takashi Hashimoto Photo: Natsuki Sakai/Afro Natsuki Sakai/Afro

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