U.S. urges Japan to sanction Russia Japan hesitates to damage Japan-Russia ties

Kyodo News reported on February 5 that the United States is urging Japan to consider imposing economic sanctions on the Russian side in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Japan has postponed its response to avoid affecting relations with Russia.

Kyodo News quoted diplomatic sources as saying that Washington has conveyed to Japan through diplomatic channels that it will not tolerate Russian military movements and urged Tokyo to increase its criticism of Moscow and impose economic sanctions on Russia, but Japan has postponed its response.

In a January video conference between Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden, Kishida said he would respond to any Russian attack on Ukraine with strong and forceful action. Russia responded that such actions would only damage relations between the two countries and would be counterproductive to the atmosphere of dialogue between the two countries.

Japan and Russia have a dispute over the four northern islands (known as South Chichi Islands in Russia), and the two countries are discussing the establishment of a special economic zone. Since World War II, Japan has had little interaction with the former Soviet Union and today’s Russia due to the influence of the United States and the Cold War. Despite the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two sides, no formal peace treaty has been signed.

The report said Japan is adopting a strategy of keeping pace with the U.S. and other Western countries and trying not to anger Moscow. The report also quoted the government’s internal pointing out that there are calls for the government not to announce sanctions-related measures before the official launch of the Russian invasion. Japan does not want the incident in Ukraine to damage relations with Russia and affect the negotiations and development of the northern territories.

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