Japan ramps up anti-Russia sanctions
Japan approved additional sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, freezing the assets of a further 398 Russian individuals. The list includes family members of top Russian officials, namely the wife of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin's two daughters, Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova.
"To prevent a further escalation of the crisis, realize a cease-fire as soon as possible and stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine, our country must impose tough sanctions against Moscow while working with the international community," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference.
The move brings to 499 the total number of Russian individuals subject to asset freezes by Japanese authorities since the beginning of the conflict between Moscow and Ukraine in late February. Up to now, Tokyo had targeted top Russian officials and lawmakers, including Putin and Lavrov, as well as senior military commanders. It was not immediately clear whether any of the affected Russians actually had assets in Japan to freeze.
Japan will also freeze the assets of a further 28 Russian organizations believed to be linked to the country’s military industry. The freeze will also affect two top Russian banks, Sberbank and Alfa Bank, with the restrictions set to kick in on May 12.
In a separate move, Japan’s economy minister Koichi Hagiuda announced the country would impose additional import bans on Russian goods. The list includes a total of 38 goods subject to the ban, namely certain machinery, lumber products and some alcoholic beverages, including vodka.
The import ban is set to take effect next Tuesday. The goods subject to the ban can be easily procured elsewhere and selected to minimize the impact on Japan's own economy, Hagiuda explained.
The minister also reiterated the pledge to phase out Russian coal imports, made by Tokyo last week. However, he didn’t elaborate on exactly when that would happen, explaining that the move must be carefully planned first.
"At first, we will carefully assess electricity demand for the summer and winter, as well as the influence on industries," he said.