Japanese PM announces sanctions against Russia, bans trade with two separatist regions in Ukraine

Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announces sanctions against Russia on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday announced economic sanctions against Russia, in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unilateral recognition of two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine that are controlled by pro-Russian militias.

The economic sanctions include suspending the issuance of visas and freezing assets of parties in the two regions; a ban on imports and exports to and from the two regions; and a ban on the issuance and circulation of new sovereign bonds by the Russian government in Japan. The government will swiftly work out the details of the sanctions and complete the necessary procedures.

“If the situation worsens, we will work with the international community to promptly take further action,” Kishida said Wednesday, stressing that Russia’s moves “violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and are in violation of international law.”

Kishida strongly condemned Russia’s actions and urged Moscow to return to diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation.

The prime minister also expressed his intention to expedite efforts regarding measures to deal with the surge in oil prices. “Even if the price of crude oil continues to rise, to minimize the impact on people’s lives and business activities, we will examine all options, without exceptions,” he said.

The government will also focus on protecting the approximately 120 Japanese nationals in Ukraine as of Sunday. On Tuesday, the Japanese Embassy in Ukraine reiterated its call for Japanese residents to evacuate the country immediately.

The government has arranged for chartered planes to evacuate Japanese citizens to neighboring Poland and other countries in case commercial flights to and from Ukraine are suspended.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said, “We want to respond to the situation with chartered planes first,” and indicated he would make a careful decision about whether to dispatch Self-Defense Force planes.