Japan criticizes nuclear deal in Belarus, imposes new sanctions on Russia

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TOKYO (AP) Japan approved additional sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine, including a freeze on the assets of dozens of individuals and entities and a ban on exports to Russian military-affiliated entities.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters the cabinet approval shows Japan is in line with other G7 countries that agreed to maintain and strengthen sanctions against Russia at last week’s Hiroshima summit. 

He said Japan is committed to working with other G7 countries and the wider international community to “improve the situation” in Ukraine.

Matsuno also accused Russia and Belarus of signing an agreement to formally allow the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons on allied territory as a move to “further increase tensions.”

“Japan is the only country in the world to have suffered a nuclear attack, and I believe that the threat of Russia and the use of nuclear weapons is completely unacceptable,” Matsuno said. “The Japanese government urges Russia and Belarus to cease further escalating measures as it continues to monitor developments with grave concern.”

Japan’s additional sanctions and export restrictions reflect the G7’s aim to discourage sanctions evasion by third countries, and include a ban on exports of materials that would help strengthen Russia’s industrial base, Matsuno said. 

A joint statement from the Departments of State, Commerce and Treasury said 24 individuals and 78 entities were added to the list of those subject to the asset freeze, including those suspected of collaborating in diversion or evasion of sanctions.

Japan moves to impose sanctions on Russia over Ukraine war amid fears of conflict in Asia, where China is expanding its military presence and using the threat of violence to tighten control over the exercise of its sovereignty and working closely with the G7.

Japan also imposed an export ban on 80 Russian military organizations, including machine manufacturers. The provision of construction, engineering and other services to Russia is also prohibited.