Japan imposes more sanctions on Russia, Belarus over Ukraine invasion

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Japan will implement further sanctions against Russia and Belarus over Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, freezing assets held by their government officials and other entities, the top government spokesman said Tuesday.

As Russia escalates its attack on Ukraine with Belarus “clearly involved,” Japan will ban exports of oil refining equipment to Russia and dual-use products to Belarus, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference.

According to the Japanese government, 32 Russian and Belarusian individuals such as government officials and business magnates, along with 12 entities including military-related companies, were added to the list of those facing asset freezes in Japan.

People gather at Peace Park in Nagasaki, southwestern Japan, on March 6, 2022, to protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Tokyo also designated the Belarusian Defense Ministry and a Minsk-based military semiconductor maker as subject to sanctions, banning the receipt of payments from them by Japanese exporters from March 15.

“Our nation will continue to collaborate with the Group of Seven (nations) and the international community toward an improvement in the situation,” Matsuno said.

Japan has joined Western countries that have imposed a series of economic sanctions on Russia and Belarus, including asset freezes on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

They have also excluded seven of Russia’s banks from the SWIFT global payments network to disrupt its trade and money transfers.

As for Russia’s release on Monday of a list of “unfriendly” countries that included Japan, Matsuno said Tokyo had lodged a protest with Moscow, saying, “It is regrettable that a measure which could work to the detriment of (Japan’s) citizens and firms was announced.”

The list allows the Russian government, firms and individuals to pay foreign currency debts owed to creditors from the unfriendly countries in Russian rubles, and obligates all business deals with companies and individuals from the listed nations to secure government approval.

Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said Japan will continue working with other nations to beef up countermeasures against illicit money transfers, such as those using cryptocurrencies, amid concern that such transactions could be employed to bypass sanctions on Russia.

The government will promote efforts to ensure the effectiveness of the sanctions to “impose maximum costs on Russia,” Suzuki told a separate news conference.


Related coverage:

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U.S. lawmakers unveil bipartisan plan to ban Russian energy imports

Japan to freeze assets of 4 more Russian banks to align with EU


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