Japan sanctions Russia, with concerns from Japanese corporations . . .
Japan announced sanctions on Russia’s central bank yesterday, in concert with growing international efforts to isolate Russia after it invaded Ukraine. The Japanese government also announced sanctions against Belarusian officials and more than C$254 million in loans and aid to Ukraine. Japanese companies have voiced concerns about the possible impacts of the Ukraine crisis and international sanctions against Russia on Japan’s auto industry. Extensive Japan-Russia financial ties in Arctic development projects further add to concerns around fallout from sanctions. These interdependent relationships help explain why Japan was one of the only G7 countries initially hesitant to agree to block Russian banks from SWIFT, the international payments system, a position it reversed on Sunday.
‘Northern Territories’ problem, nuclear politics complicates Japan’s response . . .
A decades-old territorial issue between Russia and Japan over the ‘Northern Territories,’ a group of islands northeast of Hokkaido, could rise to the forefront again amidst the ongoing crisis. This issue has been a stumbling block in many aspects of their bilateral relations. And in an escalation of aggressive rhetoric between the two countries yesterday, former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo suggested that Japan consider hosting U.S. nuclear weapons similarly to NATO member countries. Such an arrangement would mean abandoning Japan's longstanding pacifist policy, and current PM Kishida Fumio called the proposal “unacceptable” given the country’s stance against nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, in response to Russia’s escalation of its nuclear threat, atomic bomb survivors marched against “another Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” At the same time, protesters in Fukushima expressed support for Ukraine, acknowledging the country’s support in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Ukraine crisis prompts debates over inter-Korean relations . . .
South Korea’s government condemned Russia’s invasion yesterday, banning exports of weapons materials to Russia and pledging C$12.7 million in aid to Ukraine. It will join Western nations in blocking certain Russian banks from SWIFT. But it also intends to ask Washington to grant some exceptions to U.S. export sanctions on Russia, citing concerns for South Korea’s tech industry, which is deeply linked with both Russia and Ukraine. Meanwhile, the two major presidential candidates sparred over the implications of the crisis for South Korea in a debate yesterday, with both making controversial remarks. North Korea, meanwhile, blamed the U.S. and NATO for provoking the conflict in Ukraine while launching its first ballistic missile test in a month. The crisis will likely further the North Korean leadership’s fear of disarmament and denuclearization, and complicate efforts to restore trade between the country and its Russian and Chinese neighbours.
- The Korea Herald: Security emerges as key issue in presidential election as Ukraine crisis unfolds
- The Mainichi: Japan to let Ukrainian refugee applicants stay in country
- The Washington Post: In Japan and across Asia, an outpouring of support for Ukraine