TOKYO – Japan moves quickly to enact sanctions against Russia on Wednesday seems like a foregone conclusion because of its close alliance with the United States.
But eight years ago, when Russia annexation of CrimeaJapan is reluctance to impose sanctions as they seek to thread the needle between showing solidarity with Washington and maintaining diplomatic openness with Moscow to negotiate the status of the disputed islands.
Much has changed since then.
Prime Minister of Japan in 2014, Shinzo Abe, is keen to forge relations with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, in hopes Guaranteed return of what? Russia calls the Southern Kurile Islands and Japan calls the Northern Territory. The island dispute has prevented Japan and Russia from signing a peace treaty that officially ended World War II.
Although Mr. Abe eventually announced sanctions on Crimea, he left open Putin’s invitation to visit Japan. In total, during Mr. Abe’s almost eight years While in office, he met Putin at least 18 times, but made no significant progress on the status of the disputed islands.
Some politicians in Japan worry that “because Japan has a Northern Territory issue with Russia, Japan should not anger Putin,” said Yoshiki Mine, a former Japanese diplomat and president of the Institute Diplomacy of Peace, an independent think tank in Tokyo, said. “Excessive.”
Around this time, since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, the incumbent Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, has acted in a par with the Biden administration, strongly condemning Russia’s actions without hesitation.
On Wednesday, he announced sanctions that include banning Russia from issuing new sovereign bonds in the Japanese market, banning any trade with breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine. which Moscow recognized on Monday, and froze the assets of the representatives of those republics and banned them from receiving visas. .
On Thursday, answering questions in the upper house of Japan’s parliament, Mr. Kishida said he would consider further measures as events unfold.
“The Kishida government has signaled in a number of different ways and places and from different officials that they view this as certainly different from the kind of comment you would get from the Abe government in 2014,” Tobias Harris , a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington.
The most obvious change over the past eight years has been the unrelenting rise of China, Japan’s largest and most powerful neighbor. With Chinese leader Xi Jinping aligning closely with Putin, and China warning Taiwan, a democratically ruled territory that Beijing claims as its own, does not claim independence, Japan become more aware of the potential effects of Russia’s actions closer to home. Taipei is less than 400 miles from Okinawa, a chain of islands south of Japan’s main island.
“The need for Japan to take a firm stance is more important than it was in 2014 because of the Taiwan issue,” Mr. Mine said. “China is watching how Western countries will react to Russia’s attempt to change the status quo by force.”
Japan’s current sanctions are largely symbolic, given that Russia did not previously issue many sovereign bonds in Japan, and Japan did not do much trade with the breakaway eastern republic. east in Ukraine.
Analysts say Japan has some leverage it can still pull, including imposing export controls on semiconductors and closing loopholes in washing operations. money. Mr. Kishida remains ambivalent about his intentions on semiconductors, but analysts say he may be open to taking on the US-led initiative.
It’s “an important indication of the potential impact that Japan could have on this international effort,” Harris said, adding that manufacturers would need government support, “signaling.” that ‘we are not reluctant to do this, but we are committed.'”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/world/europe/japan-russia-sanctions.html Japan moves to enact sanctions against Russia