Jan 14 (Reuters) – Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday accused Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of shameful subservience to the United States and suggested he should ritually recuse himself.
It was the latest in a long line of shocking and provocative statements from Medvedev, who was once seen as a Western-leaning reformer but has reinvented himself as an arch-hawk since Russia invaded Ukraine last year.
Speaking at a news conference in Washington on Saturday, a day after a summit with US President Joe Biden on Friday, Kishida made no mention of Medvedev’s comments and was not asked about them.
Japanese officials traveling with Kishida did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and in Japan, no one was immediately available to comment outside of normal working hours at the prime minister’s official residence or at the Foreign Ministry.
Medvedev is a prominent ally of President Vladimir Putin who serves as vice chairman of Russia’s Security Council and the body that oversees the defense industry.
He was responding to a meeting between Kishida and Biden on Friday, after which the two leaders issued a joint statement saying: “We state clearly that any use of a nuclear weapon by Russia in Ukraine would be an act of hostility against humanity and would be unjustified. In any way.”
On Saturday, Kishida said the G7 summit of major industrialized nations in Hiroshima in May should show a strong will to uphold international order and the rule of law after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Medvedev said the nuclear statement showed “paranoia” towards Russia and “betrayed the memory of the thousands of Japanese who burned in the atomic fires of Hiroshima and Nagasaki” – a reference to the atomic bombs the United States forcibly dropped on Japan. His surrender at the end of World War II.
Instead of demanding US repentance for this, Kishida showed that he was “just a service attendant to the Americans”.
He said such shame could only be washed away by seppuku – a form of suicide by dismemberment, also known as hara-kiri – at a Japanese cabinet meeting after Kishida’s return.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Medvedev has repeatedly warned that Western interference in the crisis could lead to nuclear war, and has called Ukrainians “cockroaches” in language that Kiev says is openly genocidal.
Putin has said that the risk of nuclear war is increasing but insists that Russia “has not gone mad” and that it sees its own nuclear arsenal as a purely defensive deterrent.
Reporting by Reuters Editing by Frances Carey and Diane Craft
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.