Japan Extends Sanctions Against Russia over Ukraine Crisis

World | September 24, 2014, Wednesday // 15:48|  views

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks during a press conference at the prime minister`s official residence in Tokyo, 3 September 2014. Photo EPA/BGNES

Japan has announced new sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine that bring Tokyo closer in line with sanctions imposed by the US and the EU.

The announcement was made on Wednesday, shortly before Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida joins his counterparts from the other G-7 countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this week.

According to Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Tokyo decided to step up the sanctions with the foreign ministers' meeting in mind "to place emphasis on our cooperation with G-7”.

The new sanctions ban some major Russian state-owned banks from issuing securities in Japan and step up inspections to prevent arms shipments to Russia. The banks affected by the new round of sanctions are Vnesheconombank, Sberbank, Gazprombank, Vneshtorgank and Russian Agricultural Bank.

So far Tokyo had avoided imposing sanctions affecting economic relations between Japan and Russia, apparently because of reluctance to complicate relations with Moscow. Russia has become Japan’s fourth-largest supplier of natural gas and the fifth-largest supplier of crude oil over the past few years.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry expressed disappointment with the new round of Japanese sanctions, saying it regarded them as demonstration of inability to pursue independent foreign policy. 

Vnesheconombank (VEB) said it regretted the new Japanese sanctions but added they wouldn’t “materially affect the implementation of the bank’s projects and activity”. 

According to Masafumi Kaneko, senior research fellow for international and strategic studies at the PHP Institute in Tokyo, the new sanctions “won't have much of an impact on Russia but reflect how Japan wants to maintain solidarity with its allies." 

Tokyo imposed the first round of sanctions against Russia in mid-March over the annexation of Crimea. It suspended consultations over possible relaxation of facilitation of visa regulations and postponed the conclusion of treaties with Moscow on investment, space cooperation and prevention of dangerous military activity. 

In April Japan said it would suspend the issue of entry visas for 23 Russian government officials and other persons but didn’t make the list public, while in August it said it would freeze accounts of representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics and two Crimean companies, if those individuals and entities were found to hold accounts in Japanese banks.

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Tags: Japan, Russia, Ukraine, sanctions, Tokyo, Moscow, Crimea, banks, arms, ban, gas, oil


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