On Tuesday, the Japanese government has come out and said that it would start sanctions on Russia pushing its influence and recognizing a Crimean vote to secede from the Ukraine. On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing Crimea as an independent state following a referendum that resulted in a majority vote agreeing to join Russia. Governments all over the world – including the Group of Seven economic powers which Japan is a part of – has come out and condemned Moscow’s actions.
“It’s deplorable that Russia recognized the independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, a move that violates Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Japanese foreign ministry said in a statement put out on Tuesday. “Japan will suspend negotiations on easing visa requirements, and will not begin talks on a new investment accord, an outer space accord and an accord aimed at preventing risky military activities,” the statement also added. Political observers have already expressed their curiosity on what Japan’s response might be, due to the recent warming of relations between the two countries. Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had already gone through a number of high profile meetings and summits, and there has been hope that a peace treaty between the two feuding countries would finally be signed.
“Japan urges Russia to understand the position held by the G7 (Group of Seven) world powers,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a press conference. Suga added that Japan “is, of course, thinking” about further sanction against Russia, but he did not elaborate on the details. Suga also disputed suggestions that Tokyo’s “lukewarm” sanctions – compared to its western partners’ travel bans and asset freezes against Russian and Ukraine officials – are evidence of Tokyo tiptoeing around the issue, still hoping to resolve a decades-old territorial dispute with Moscow. “That’s not the case,” Suga said. “Japan never overlooks an attempt to change the status quo through force.”