Russia Responds to Japan’s “Unacceptable Rhetoric” with Sanctions Against Japanese Officials

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    Russia has banned 64 Japanese officials, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, because of Ukraine war sanctions.

    “The administration of Fumio Kishida launched an unprecedented anti-Russian campaign, allowing unacceptable rhetoric against the Russian Federation, including slander and direct threats,” condemned the Russian Foreign Ministry in its statement on Wednesday. It was reported that the Foreign Ministry accused the Japanese government of being “completely biased” and tainted by “the attitudes of the West towards our country.”

    Other Japanese officials barred from entering Russia include Kishida's Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, Foreign Secretary Yoshimasa Yamasashi, Finance Minister Shun'ichi Suzuki, and Defense Minister Nobuo Kisi. Russia has also banned a number of Japanese media and businessmen as well as executives from the publisher of Japan's most prestigious newspaper.

    Prime Minister Kishida, who is currently meeting with Vatican officials and Pope Francis in Rome to discuss denuclearization, has told reporters that the Russian visa ban is “unacceptable.” Kishida angered Moscow in April when he referred to the slaughter of Ukrainian civilians as a “war crime” that left the Japanese leader in “deep shock.” “The aggression and war crimes should never be tolerated,” he said when declaring new Japanese restrictions against Russia.

    Nikkei Asia, whose executives were among those barred from entering Russia, suggested on Monday that the Russian invasion of Ukraine could serve as a “wake-up call” for a previously mild-mannered Japan. When Russia took over Crimea in 2014, the administration of then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was hesitant to impose severe sanctions against Moscow, renouncing urgings from the main Western powers. But currently, the Japanese government has taken a firm stance against Russian aggression and has joined with the U.S. and Europe in pressing Moscow. It is certainly the right reaction to Russia's outrageous infringement on Ukraine's sovereignty.

    Nikkei Asia suggested Japan should learn from Ukraine’s experience by strengthening its security ties with Japan's allies in North America, Australia, and Europe and focusing on Japan's crucial partnership with America. Japan must also strengthen its defenses to stand firm until American assistance arrives in the scenario of an attack, similar to how Ukraine's extraordinary defenses held Russians in check for those first couple of crucial weeks.

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