Japan tightens restrictions on trade with Russia

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The new restrictions cover a wide range of goods, including metals, chemicals and industrial gear

The Japanese government is expanding its ban on exports to Russia, aiming to undercut Moscow’s industrial base in retaliation for the conflict in Ukraine. The move follows several rounds of penalties by Tokyo, which has joined a US-led sanctions campaign.

Japan’s Trade Ministry announced the upcoming measure on Friday, noting that it would widen its list of embargoed products to the Russian Federation beginning on August 9, “in light of the current international situation surrounding Ukraine.” 

“In order to contribute to international efforts for peace, Japan will implement a ban on exports to Russia based on the measures that major countries have decided to take,” the ministry said, adding that the ban targets “goods that contribute to the strengthening of Russia’s industrial base.”

The amended export ban will cover a wide range of products, including iron, steel, nickel, copper and aluminum, as well as industrial chemicals, plastics, lumber, textiles, electronics, machinery and scientific instruments. It will also be illegal to ship vehicles with engines larger than 1.9 cubic centimeters, electric, yachts and furniture. 

The decision follows a raft of Japanese sanctions imposed on the Russian economy since Moscow launched its military operation in the neighboring state last year, including asset freezes, export bans, and the revocation of Moscow’s ‘most-favored nation’ trade status. Japan also blacklisted 80 Russian military-related companies and organizations, including firms that produce heavy machinery.

After announcing an earlier round of penalties in May, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Tokyo would follow other Group of Seven countries in strengthening its Russia sanctions, hoping they would “improve the situation” for Ukraine.

Last month, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow was “considering retaliatory steps” against Tokyo, adding that it viewed Japan’s penalties “very negatively.” The Kremlin previously blacklisted nearly 400 Japanese lawmakers in response to earlier sanctions and the country’s “unfriendly, anti-Russian position” in regard to Ukraine, and banned entry to dozens of senior officials, among them Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

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