Japan announced Friday it is expelling eight Russian diplomats and trade officials and will phase out imports of Russian coal and oil because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said Japan will also ban imports of Russian lumber, vodka, and other goods, and will prohibit new Japanese investment in Russia.
It will also step up financial sanctions against Russian banks and freeze assets of about 400 more individuals and groups, including military-linked organizations, Kishida said at a news conference.
He said Russia must be held accountable for “war crimes” in Ukraine, including atrocities against civilians and attacks on nuclear facilities, that are “severe violations of international law and are absolutely impermissible.”
“We are at a critical moment in our efforts to get Russia to stop its cruel invasion of Ukraine and restore peace. Everyone, please cooperate,” Kishida said, referring to the sanctions’ impact on Japanese people, such as higher prices for gasoline, electricity and food.
Earlier Friday, the Foreign Ministry announced it is expelling eight Russian diplomats and trade officials. European countries have already expelled dozens of Russian diplomats as their relationships have plunged over Moscow’s war against Ukraine.
Europe and the United States have also stepped up sanctions against Russia, including restrictions on coal imports, following revelations of harrowing atrocities against civilians in Ukrainian cities.
Kishida said the additional sanctions are in line with an agreement by the Group of Seven advanced industrialized nations.
The measures contained in a G-7 leaders’ statement include a phasing out or banning of imports of Russian coal and oil. Japanese trade minister Hagiuda Koichi said Japan plans to gradually reduce its energy reliance on Russia while seeking ways to reduce the burden on Japanese companies.
Japan has already imposed a series of sanctions, including freezing assets of top Russian officials such as President Vladimir Putin, restricting exports to Russia of goods including sensitive items transferrable to military use, and removing key banks from an international messaging system.
Japan is taking a greater role in the international effort against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because of concerns about its impact on East Asia, where China’s military has grown increasingly assertive.
Japan has already faced reprisals from Russia. Moscow recently announced the suspension of talks on a peace treaty with Tokyo that include negotiations over Russian-held islands which the Soviet Union seized from Japan at the end of World War II.