Taiwan has a better economy than the Ukraine and they have a healthy democracy. The Ukraine would do good to follow the advice of the Japanese ambassador. By doing so would help make themselves more worth maintaining independent sovereignty and satisfying more of its population. Fortunately for Taiwan, they are surrounded by water have strong friendly navies. Unfortunately for the Ukraine, it borders Russia that sends little green when they don't like the economic direction the country was taking and annex some of its territory away.
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Japanese Ambassador Shigeki Sumi: Ukraine cannot just sit and relax and wait for business to come
By Brian Bonner. Published Feb. 6. Updated Feb. 6 at 9:43 pm
Japanese Ambassador to Ukraine Shigeki Sumi speaks with the Kyiv Post during a 2017 interview in his office at the Japanese Embassy.
Photo by Kostyantyn Chernichkin
In his most recent interview with the Kyiv Post, Japanese Ambassador to Ukraine Shigeki Sumi remained troubled by the lack of confidence in Ukraines law enforcement system and Ukraines passivity in attracting investment from Japan.
To be honest, people, those who are in business, do not have confidence in the law enforcement system in Ukraine the way it should be, Sumi, who arrived on Oct. 22, 2014, told the Kyiv Post on Oct. 27. The newspaper was not able to schedule up a follow-up interview to get his assessment of what, if anything, had changed in his outlook in the last 100 days.
He described arbitrary, unjustified actions by government against businesses.
Imagine a company doing the same business for the last 20 years and nobody raises any question but suddenly someone, sometimes from the SBU [Security Service of Ukraine], sometimes from the prosecutors office, raises questions that what youre doing is illegal, Sumi said, citing an example of the type of obstacles faced.
They come to your office for documents and say you are violating a law for many reasons. If this company has been doing same business in the last 20 years, its a bit strange. More specifically, they say the products they are selling are not in category a, but they should be in category b. So that means you have to pay more tax. Its illegal. You are guilty of tax evasion,' Sumi said.
Such situations are exasperating for businesses.
Cmon, my company has been selling this product as a category a for the last 20 years. Why do you make a fuss about it this time? the ambassador continued. That happens not to just Japanese companies. It happens to many companies. That means theres no transparency, no explanation.
Fortunately, in many cases, Sumi said, Japanese companies finally win the case in the court. But imagine how much energy, money, cost.
Eradication of corruption
His conclusion: A very fair and transparent law enforcement and judicial system are very needed to establish in Ukraine.
He took hope that the formation of the new Supreme Court will help rule of law. I think its very good to have new Supreme Court judges, the ambassador said. It wasnt easy, but the government has done it.
He also said that the process needs to be completed throughout the lower courts to choose judges based on merit rather than family connections or whatever. I hope this will continue.
Sumi cautioned against the one-size-fits-all approach to fighting corruption for every nation, saying that it was up to the Ukrainian people whether to establish an independent anti-corruption court.
Whats more important, he said, are results and justice.
What we want to see is the eradication of corruption, he said. Lets do it in the most favorable way.
Strong supporter of Ukraine
Japan is one of the largest bilateral donors to Ukraine, giving out more than $1.8 billion in loans or grants since the EuroMaidan Revolution that drove President Viktor Yanukovych from power on Feb. 22, 2014.
Most of the money a long-term, low-interest loan of $1.1 billion is going to replace the decrepit Bortnytska sewage treatment plant on the Dnipro River. The construction is expected to be completed by 2023. The current plant poses an environmental threat. Parts of the station are more than 50 years old. The Dnipro River is the main source of drinking water for Kyivans.
Two weeks ago, I and my wife went to the area, it stinks, its very polluted, Sumi said.
While ready to help, Sumi said, Japan is not happy to give assistance if reforms are not done.
Sumi said hes seen more awareness in Ukraine of the extent to which Japan has been helping since the EuroMaidan Revolution.
Everybody said thank you, but why Japan? We understand why America, the European Union do it, but not Japan, he said. Now they take it for granted that Japan is doing a lot of things for Ukraine. Japan is the only country in Asia who is doing these kinds of things.
Japan, a member of the G7 group of large industrial democracies, is alone among Asian nations in supporting economic sanctions against Russia for its war against Ukraine since 2014. The aggression has dismembered Ukraine and killed more than 10,000 people.
Its a matter of unwavering principle, the ambassador said.
Japan does not accept in any way the annexation of Crimea and for people in the east, the conflict should be settled by the Minsk agreement; until that happens, Japan will keep the sanctions on Russia, Sumi said.
No time to relax
Trade relations are beginning to warm up, but not at the pace that would make Japan and Ukraine major trading partners. Bilateral trade stood at $737 million in 2016 with Japanese investment at $130 million that year.
Since then, its beginning that Japanese companies have an interest in Ukraine. They found a lot of business opportunities, Sumi said, citing low wages and high quality of Ukrainian workers.
But Sumi cautioned that the Ukrainian people cannot just sit relax and wait for business to come. In the case of IT [information technology, for example], they should go to Japan to sell the IT business opportunity. We have a huge opportunity in Japan because we have a shortage of labor.
Moreover, he said, getting a working visa is not a problem in Japan in specialized, in-demand professions such as IT.
For Ukrainians who just want to visit Japan, we are in the process of visa liberalization, requiring fewer financial guarantees and extending the length of visas as well as granting multiple-entry visas if you have a good record of going to Japan several times.
Visa-free travel for Ukrainians is not under consideration at the moment, he said, but remains possible someday.
Edited by JasonJ, 22 April 2018 - 0939 AM.