Stand against war crimes by increasing pressure

The massacre of civilians is a war crime that is absolutely unacceptable. Japan must unite with the international community and increase pressure on Russia to stop its atrocities.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced additional sanctions against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. In line with a Group of Seven summit statement pledging stricter sanctions, Japan decided to ban imports of Russian coal, stepping into the energy field, where it had previously been cautious.

Russia has repeatedly killed civilians and attacked nuclear power plants, private facilities and other targets. These outrages clearly violate international humanitarian law.

It was only natural that Kishida stressed at a press conference that the killing of civilians is “a war crime that is absolutely unforgivable. We must hold Russia accountable for its outrageous acts.”

In the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk, a train station was attacked, leaving scores of civilians, including children, dead and injured. It is believed that a short-range ballistic missile from the Russian military was used in the attack.

Kishida said the ban on coal imports will be implemented in phases by taking into consideration the possible impact, such as that on electricity supply. It is necessary to steadily reduce dependence on Russia for energy sources, including oil.

Japan imports about 10% of its coal from Russia. In anticipation of a total ban, Japan should take various steps including expanding energy imports from other countries and restarting nuclear power plants, in order to prevent the supply of electricity from becoming tight.

Along with the fresh sanctions, the Japanese government demanded that eight Russians, including diplomats at the Russian Embassy in Japan, leave the country. This is an unusual step.

Western countries have begun expelling Russian diplomats from their countries and Japan is keeping in step with them. As maintaining normal diplomatic relations with Russia is impossible under the current circumstances, it is reasonable that Japan made its stance against the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin clear.

If Moscow takes retaliatory measures, it could hinder the protection of Japanese nationals in Russia. The government is urged to make efforts to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals.

The international community is moving toward bringing Russia to justice for its war crimes.

Countries have voiced support for the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has already launched an investigation. It is also essential that the United Nations carries out an on-site investigation as soon as possible to clarify the reality of the invasion.

Japan will reportedly support the war crime investigation by advancing the payment of its contribution to the ICC.

It is important for Japan to cooperate closely with other countries and take every possible measure to end Russia’s aggression as soon as possible and maintain international law and order.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 10, 2022)