The Monday editions of all national dailies reported that the G7 foreign ministers released a joint statement on Saturday after holding an emergency meeting in Munich to discuss the Ukrainian crisis. The foreign ministers stated that they “remain gravely concerned” about Russia’s military buildup around Ukraine, which they called “a challenge to global security and the international order,” and warned that any further military aggression would have “massive consequences,” including powerful financial and economic sanctions. Concerning Russia’s recent announcement that it began withdrawing some of its troops from Ukraine, the foreign ministers reportedly pointed out that they have seen “no evidence” of this reduction and urged Russia to swiftly withdraw its troops from Ukraine’s borders.
Speaking to the press after the G7 foreign ministerial, Foreign Minister Hayashi stressed the need for Japan to act in unison with the other G7 members over Ukraine. He reportedly said: “The situation in Ukraine doesn’t only concern Europe.” Hayashi reportedly added that Japan plans to impose sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, saying: “We will work closely with the international community and respond in an appropriate way, including imposing sanctions.”
According to Asahi, Hayashi said he told his G7 counterparts that the Ukrainian issue is about “the fundamental principle of the international community that changing the status quo by force is not tolerated” and that Japan supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. A senior MOFA official reportedly told the paper that it was meaningful that he conveyed the message that Europe is not the only region affected by the Ukrainian crisis since China is increasing its military pressure over the Taiwan Strait and in the East China Sea.
Yomiuri wrote that although Japan did not join its U.S. and European partners in imposing strong economic sanctions on Russia when it annexed Crimea in 2014 because it wanted to show consideration to the Russian side in the hope of resolving the issue of the Northern Territories, it is now eyeing imposing tougher sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine in view of China’s attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas and growing military pressure on Taiwan. The paper said that as China supports Russia’s position over Ukraine, Japan fears that taking a soft stance toward Russia could send the wrong message to China.