The warming of relations between Russia and Japan has taken a big blow after Japan refused 23 Russian nationals’ entry to the country over the Crimean annexation issue in Ukraine. The long spell of cold bilateral relations between Moscow and Tokyo seemed to be at an end with the efforts of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin to mend ties actually working, but Russia’s annexation of Crimea changed the dynamic. Sanctions have been imposed by a lot of countries including Japan, where one of the penalties is the denial of visa entries for 23 Russians by the Japanese government.
On Tuesday, Moscow has gone on record vowing that this action will not go unnoticed by the Russian government. The Russian foreign ministry said that Tokyo’s decision was “met with disappointment in Moscow, and of course will not be left without a response”. The statement from the Russian foreign ministry also described Tokyo’s decision as “a clumsy step taken under the influence of foreign pressure”. Finally, the statement concluded saying that “Attempts by Japan to put pressure on Russia will in no way help de-escalate tensions around Ukraine.” The Japanese foreign ministry had revealed on Tuesday that the Russian nationals who were denied entry to Japan were suspected of “infringing the unity of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territory”.
The Japanese government continues to stand by its sanctions. “Japan calls on all parties to act carefully with self-restraint and responsibility,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in a statement. “We sincerely hope that the Ukraine situation will be normalized through diplomatic dialogue.” Before the Crimean crisis, both countries were at the brink of ending a dispute that spanned years after the Second World War, over Russian-controlled islands north of Japan. Putin’s scheduled visit to Tokyo was rumored to be an event where a peace treaty could finally be signed, but that possibility seems far away at this point.
[via New Straits Times]