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Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined comment if Tokyo will impose economic sanctions against Russia over its deployment of troops on Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula, only saying Tokyo will “properly deal with the situation by closely consulting with relevant countries.”

The United States, Japan’s sole military ally, has criticized Russia’s action as illegal and has imposed economic sanctions on Moscow.

Washington’s hard-line stance has put Tokyo in a difficult position, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has tried hard to build closer ties with resource-rich Russia and promote stalled talks on the territorial row over the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido.

“We know of news reports about (U.S. sanctions),” Suga told reporters. “At any rate, we’d likely strongly urge all the parties involved to cautiously behave with self-restraint and responsibility, perfectly observe international law and respect the sovereign and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Abe has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Tokyo, and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida is scheduled to visit Moscow in April.

Tokyo has not changed either plan yet, officials have said.

“Japan is not in a position to take action first. We’re watching how Europe will react first,” a high-ranking government official said earlier this week.

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