Japan, U.S., EU to impose additional sanctions on Russia

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at a press conference on Friday.

Japan on Friday announced additional sanctions against Russia over its military invasion of Ukraine, following in the footsteps of the United States, the European Union and Britain.

The coordinated sanctions involving Group of Seven nations include export controls on semiconductors and other high-tech products, and financial sanctions on major Russian banks.

The measures reflect a determination among the countries concerned to make it clear that actions that shake the foundations of the international order will not be tolerated.

Washington aims to deal a blow to Russia’s military and aerospace sectors by restricting exports of semiconductors and telecommunications equipment.

At a press conference at the White House on Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden said, “Between our actions and those of our allies and partners, we estimate that we’ll cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports.”

The financial sanctions will target five major banks, including Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank. The United States will sever the banks’ connections to the U.S. financial system. It will also restrict trading in bonds and stocks issued by major Russian companies, including Gazprom, one of the world’s largest gas companies.

It stopped short of banning Russian financial institutions from SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, which provides payment networks to banks around the world.

“That’s not the position the rest of Europe wishes to take,” Biden said.

The British government on Thursday announced that it will freeze the assets of all Russian financial institutions in Britain and ban the export of important technologies that can be used for military purposes such as communications and aerospace. It also plans to ban Russia’s largest airline Aeroflot from flying in its airspace.

The European Union held an emergency summit meeting in Brussels on the day, and agreed to impose additional sanctions on Russia’s financial, energy and transportation industries.

At a press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tokyo “will work closely with the G7 and the international community to strengthen sanctions.”

Japan’s sanctions will focus on restricting exports of semiconductors and other general-purpose goods to Russia, freezing the assets of Russian financial institutions, individuals and organizations, and halting visa issuance.

Financial sanctions will be imposed on three banks, including state-run VEB (the Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs). The government will also tighten screening for semiconductors and other products.

The situation in Ukraine “cannot be ignored from the viewpoint of our country’s security,” said Kishida. “In cooperation with the international community, we will send out a strong message that changing the status quo by force will not be tolerated in any region, including Asia.”