Japan is considering new sanctions against Russia over the Ukrainian crisis, government officials said Thursday.
Japan is considering expanding the coverage of sanctions already in place, including a visa ban and asset freeze on Russian government officials, they said. A final decision is expected to be made shortly, they said.
The government judged it necessary to clarify the country’s emphasis on coordinating with its Group of Seven colleagues by keeping pace with them in strengthening sanctions against Russia.
Tokyo initially planned to announce new sanctions on Russia Friday. But it now plans to wait to see how Moscow will act before making a final decision, as it is exploring the possibility of holding a meeting of the two countries’ foreign ministers on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session in New York next week.
Russia is widely expected to react to the new sanctions. It is more than likely that Russian President Vladimir Putin will postpone a planned visit to Japan in the autumn.
Still, the government is hoping to somehow continue dialogue with Russia with an eye to promoting bilateral territorial negotiations over the four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido. Japan has been seeking the return of the islands, which were seized by Soviet troops in the closing days of the war.
On Tuesday, the government held a National Security Council meeting to discuss policy, including new sanctions.
“We will respond appropriately as we are prioritizing coordination with our G-7 partners,” said Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko at a press conference Thursday.
In March, the government slapped sanctions on Russia for its recognition of Crimean independence. The sanctions included the suspension of talks with Moscow over an easing of visa requirements.