• Kyodo


Japan will impose additional sanctions on Russia for failing to defuse the crisis in Ukraine, where the recent downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet killed all 298 people aboard, the government said Monday.

Assets held in Japan by individuals or groups directly involved in Russia’s annexation of Crimea or the instability in eastern Ukraine will be frozen, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said during his daily press briefing.

Japan will also follow the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s recent decision to freeze funding for new projects in Russia, and limit imports of Crimea-made products, Suga said.

The additional sanctions will take effect upon Cabinet approval, which is expected soon, according to the Foreign Ministry.

“After consulting with our G-7 partners and the United Nations, we made the decision based on various factors, including the growing possibility that the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down,” Suga said.

The Group of Seven major industrialized nations are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

“The situation has not improved in Ukraine despite repeated calls from the international community (for a diplomatic solution),” Suga said. “Japan hopes the situation will return to normal. We ask Russia to exert influence on separatist groups in Ukraine as their cooperation is needed for the international probe into the plane crash.”

Japan implemented a set of measures in March to punish Russia for intervening in Ukraine, including suspension of talks for easing visa issuance conditions and freezing the planned launch of talks for an investment accord.

Japan followed the United States and the European Union in taking further steps against Russia in April, denying visas to 23 Russian nationals including government officials.

As for the possibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin visiting Japan later this year, Suga said, “Nothing has been decided.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a news conference Monday in Moscow that Putin would consider visiting Japan this year if officially invited.

Russia is hoping to further develop its cooperative relationship with Japan, Lavrov said, adding it wants the Japanese government to assert its individual position in international matters separate from the United States and the European Union.

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