The Japanese government will not recognize the results of a referendum in Crimea, resulting in what was a majority vote that supported seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called upon Russia not to annex the Ukrainian region, saying that Tokyo will respond with sanctions against Russia in a manner acceptable to the Group of Seven countries of which Japan is a member.
Crimea’s Moscow-backed leaders had earlier declared a vote totaling around 96 percent in favor of seceding from Ukraine. The vote was overwhelming on Sunday, with Crimeans looking to once again be part of former political master Russia. With this vote, Ukraine is on the verge of one the most radical re-drafting of political boundaries since Kosovo in 2008. But this referendum was declared illegal by Western powers, saying that Russia will be feeling the brunt of immediate sanctions soon. International condemnation also began pouring in from other governments of the world even as thousands of people were celebrating in the streets of Crimea at the outcome of the vote.
Japan is in a particular bind with this issue and will look to tread softly, as the recent warming of relations between Russia and Japan is at stake. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been very cordial in their relations, with the two leaders regularly meeting in summits and personal visits recently. Before the Crimea issue, there has been a real hope among diplomatic officials from Japan and Russia that a peace treaty might be signed soon. This treaty would be a landmark agreement for Moscow and Tokyo, seeing that both countries have been quarrelling in a long-running territorial dispute since the tail-end of the Second World War.
[via Yahoo News]