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Japan denies visas to 23 Russians over Ukraine

Reuters

Japan imposed visa bans on 23 people on Tuesday as it followed the United States and the European Union in announcing expanded sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

Moscow has already denounced what it called “Cold War” tactics for the new U.S. and EU sanctions imposed on Russian and Ukrainian allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Japan expresses serious concern that Russian moves to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including the annexation of Crimea, are continuing,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in a statement.

The Foreign Ministry did not disclose the names, titles or nationalities of the 23 people hit with the new visa bans. A ministry official said Japan’s list was based on those compiled by the United States and the European Union.

The new U.S. sanctions, announced on Monday, target the likes of Putin’s friend Igor Sechin, the head of oil giant Rosneft, with visa bans and asset freezes.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who left Japan on Tuesday, faces a tough task during a 10-day European trip.

He must strike a balance between standing by other G-7 nations in condemning Russia, while also maintaining working ties with Moscow as Tokyo seeks to diversify energy imports after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

In March, Japan took measures to punish Russia for intervening in Ukraine, including the suspension of talks for easing visa issuance conditions and freezing the launch of talks for an investment accord and for bilateral agreements on ensuring the peaceful use of space.