Japan has joined the United States and other members of the international community on Monday in expressing their concern about Russia’s move to send military troops in Ukraine. With Ukraine’s new government seemingly unstable, Moscow had decided to move troops into Crimea following a unanimous vote by Russia’s upper house of parliament Saturday. Tokyo has been tentative to voice criticism against Russia, whom it has recently been on good terms with following recent meetings of both its top leaders.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that it is expressing concern at Moscow’s authorization on Saturday to move troops into Ukraine because “the use of the armed forces of the Russian Federation in Ukraine heightens the tension in the region and would harm the peace and stability of the international community.”
“In this regard, Japan expresses grave anxiety and concern over the decision,” the statement added. “Japan strongly expects that the situation in Ukraine will be settled in a peaceful manner and strongly urges all the parties concerned to behave with maximum self-restraint and responsibility, to fully observe the relevant international laws.” This statement is similar to the one the G7 group of countries, of which Japan is a member, had put out. Earlier, United States President Barack Obama said that he was “deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine.” Obama also went on to say there would be “costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”
Expectedly, Tokyo is trying to balance its reaction to the current situation as it comes in a time when relations between the two countries have been warming. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was one of the few pro-Western leaders who attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and also had his fifth one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin since Abe came to power in December 2012. Relations between the two countries never really normalized after the Second World War in light of a territorial dispute that has dragged on to the present. With the improvement of relations between Tokyo and Moscow, Japan is actually looking to cement a deal with Russia that may potentially end the dispute.
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