Japan jumps on Western bandwagon in restricting Russian trade

Tokyo expands sanctions against Moscow in sync with the US and the EU

The Japanese government will expand Ukraine-related export and financial sanctions against Russia and Russian businessmen, in line with similar measures taken by Washington and Brussels last Friday.

We intend to ban the export of luxury goods to Russia and ban the import of certain Russian goods,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told the press on Wednesday. According to the official, Japan will also expand its list of “the Russian elite, including those close to [President Vladimir] Putin,” which will be subject to restrictions such as asset freezes.

In addition, Tokyo will deprive Russia of its most favored nation trade status, which carries a risk of punitive tariffs or a complete ban on the import of Russian goods to Japan.

Other steps include introducing measures to prevent Russia from circumventing sanctions, including via cryptocurrencies.

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Japan expands list of banned exports to Russia

We intend to cooperate with the G7 so that Russia cannot use loans from the [International Monetary Fund] and other international creditors,” Kishida added.

He noted, however, that Japan will adhere to the West’s sanctions policy where its own energy security is not jeopardized. Japan imports Russian oil and liquefied natural gas. Kishida did not rule out that retaliatory measures would follow from Russia, which could affect the Japanese economy and the lives of Japanese citizens.

As the Yomiuri newspaper noted, recalling Russia’s status as the most favored trade nation, in particular, could lead to an increase in duties on imports of Russian fish and seafood. Japan is the fourth biggest buyer of Russian seafood. Some 60% of Japan’s imported crab comes from Russia, according to Japan’s Fisheries Agency, as do nearly 10% of its salmon and over 7% of its cod.

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Traditional Japanese food feels impact of Russia sanctions

Last week, the Japanese media reported sushi restaurants throughout the country had already voiced concerns over a spike in seafood prices, blaming it on anti-Russia sanctions.

Japan joined the US, the EU, and other countries in hitting Russia with sanctions over its ongoing military operation in Ukraine earlier this month. Tokyo banned the supply of 300 items of goods and technologies to Russia, including high-tech, maritime, and aviation security equipment, as well as military products, chemical and oil-refining industry products, and software.

The export ban comes into effect on March 18, with sanctions affecting 49 Russian companies and organizations. Japan also froze the assets of seven major Russian banks and imposed personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin, a number of businessmen, and politicians.

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