All national dailies reported on Prime Minister Kishida’s announcement on Wednesday of Japan’s economic sanctions against Russia and the two pro-Russian separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine that Moscow has recognized as independent states. The GOJ will suspend visa issuance for officials from the two regions and freeze their assets, ban exports to and imports from the two regions, and suspend the issuance and trading of new Russian sovereign bonds in Japan.
Speaking to reporters, Kishida reiterated Japan’s condemnation of the latest Russian moves as a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and international law. He stressed that Japan will work closely with the G7 partners and the international community and impose additional sanctions if the situation worsens. The premier added that the government will make utmost efforts to minimize any impact of the sanctions on energy supplies to Japan, including hikes in crude oil prices, and evacuate Japanese nationals from Ukraine.
Nikkei wrote that Kishida moved expeditiously in announcing Japan’s sanctions on Russia after coordinating closely with the United States and European countries, speculating that the premier is concerned that Russian moves to change the status quo by force would have an impact on East Asia, particularly China’s maritime activities in the region. The paper wrote that Kishida’s prompt action marks a sharp contrast with Japan’s slow response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 under the administration of former Prime Minister Abe, who attached importance to developing friendly ties with Moscow in the hope of making progress in negotiations on the Northern Territories. Yomiuri and Sankei expressed similar views, with Yomiuri quoting an unnamed senior MOFA official as saying that the prime minister’s announcement on Wednesday was important in order to express Japan’s seriousness in responding to the crisis in Ukraine.
Asahi speculated that while Japan is acting in concert with the United States and Europe, it is hesitant to provoke Russia too much in view of its Northern Territories negotiations with Moscow. The paper wrote that some senior officials at the Kantei are wary of imposing stronger sanctions on Russia.
Mainichi conjectured that although Japan announced its sanctions in coordination with the G7 partners, the measures will probably have limited impact on Russia because not many Russian sovereign bonds are issued and circulated in Japan.