Ukraine accused of using Butterfly Mines (HRW): Will Japan condemn?

Ukraine accused of using Butterfly Mines (HRW): Will Japan condemn?

Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is accusing Ukraine of using banned anti-personnel mines – despite knowing that adult civilians and children could become the victims. Ukraine knows the consequences of using Butterfly Mines during battles – and the resulting loss of limbs and deaths by adults and children in the aftermath.

This concerns the ongoing conflict between Ukraine (supported by NATO powers) and indigenous Russians born in the Donbass (Donbas) region – and supported by the armed forces of the Russian Federation.

Healthcare workers were interviewed in Izium. They acknowledged 11 ordinary civilians dying because of the indiscriminate mines – and 50 people wounded. Roughly 50% of people injured had either their foot or lower leg amputated. Five of the victims were children.

The Director of the Arms Division at HRW, Steve Goose, said, “Ukrainian forces appear to have extensively scattered landmines around the Izyum area, causing civilian casualties and posing an ongoing risk.”

He continued, “I think, without question, this is the worst violation of the Mine Ban Treaty in its 25 years of existence.” 

Voice of America reports, “More than 100 residents of Izium and the surrounding area said that Russian forces or occupation authorities posted and distributed flyers to warn of the landmine danger. They also cleared landmines from public areas and civilians’ private property and took some mine victims to Russia for medical care – actions inconsistent with being responsible for laying the mines. Human Rights Watch interviewed two landmine victims who said that Russian forces transferred them by military helicopter to Russia for medical care.”

It isn’t known if Ukraine used Butterfly Mines in other military offensives against Russians. However, it seems unlikely that they were only used in Izium (Izyum). Yet, this isn’t confirmed.


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan – and other members of his administration – keep on rebuking the Russian Federation concerning “international law.” So, it will be interesting to see if Japan condemns Ukraine for using indiscriminate Butterfly Mines and other known violations against “international law.”

Nobody expects NATO to worry too much. After all, America (the major military power in NATO) is the only nation to utilize nuclear weapons and Agent Orange against civilians in Japan and Vietnam. Also, America used Depleted Uranium (DU) in several recent conflicts. However, Kishida’s anti-Russia and anti-China stances concern “the rule of international law” and a “rules-based world.”

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports, “Prime Minister Kishida explained that, at the G7 Hiroshima Summit, he would like to demonstrate the G7’s vision and determination to uphold the international order based on the rule of law…”

Kishida – similar to the leaders of other G7 nations – seems nonchalant if millions of people are killed by G7 nations directly, by proxy, or concerning the military arms that alter wars on the ground.

For example, The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs – concerning the war on terror since September 11 – (Brown University – America) reports, “Millions of people living in the war zones have also been displaced by war. The U.S. post-9/11 wars have forcibly displaced at least 38 million people in and from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya, and Syria. This number exceeds the total displaced by every war since 1900, except World War II.”

Gulf powers and members of NATO have turned Yemen into a nightmare. James Elder (2021), a spokesperson for UNICEF, said, “A child dies in Yemen of something that is preventable every 10 minutes. And that is certainly a number that unfortunately has not changed in the last couple of years…Yemen is the most difficult place in the world to be a child. Incredulously, it is getting worse.”

Hence, will Kishida remain silent about Ukraine using Butterfly Mines?

The Global South (in general) doesn’t support the anti-Russian Federation narrative of the European Union, G7, and NATO. Instead, the majority seek neutrality and the ending of the war.

Also, recent conflicts involving NATO powers directly or by proxy – or sometimes both – in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, the former Yugoslavia, and other conflicts mean that the Global South is tired of wars that involve America and other NATO powers.

Accordingly, Japan is “a divisionist dream” for America in Northeast Asia. Hence, Kishida’s approach isn’t welcomed in the Global South. Thus, silence about Ukraine using Butterfly Mines – will confirm Japan’s double standards under Kishida.

HRW is neither pro-Ukraine nor pro-Russian Federation. Accordingly, this human rights organization released reports that condemn the Russian Federation.

Yet, Japan’s stance under Kishida is that actions taken by the Russian Federation are unique and infringe on international law. This negates countless direct wars by America and ongoing events in Yemen (concerning several NATO powers). Also, the report by HRW is evidence that Ukraine is violating the “biased moral stance” of Kishida.

It should be noted that Kishida met the leaders of Indonesia (which occupies West Papua) and Turkey (which occupies North Cyprus and North Iraq). However, international law and occupying land didn’t enter the conversation.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group Modern Tokyo Times – International News and Japan News – Sawako Utsumi’s website and Modern Tokyo Times artist Modern Tokyo News – Tokyo News and International News