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Japan postpones new sanctions against Russia — source

September 19, 2014, 9:59 UTC+3 TOKYO
The announcement could be made next week during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to New York
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TOKYO, September 19. /ITAR-TASS/. Japan has decided to delay the announcement of a new round of sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis, which had been earlier planned for Friday, senior government sources have told ITAR-TASS.

The postponement comes as Tokyo wants to follow Moscow’s reaction towards the move. However, Japan has not yet decided to call off the sanctions and is expected to detail the restrictions later.

The announcement could be made next week during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to New York, where he will attend the session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Japanese media reports said Tokyo was due to announce the expansion of sanctions against a range of individuals from Russia and the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, to be subject to the asset freeze and visa ban.

The reports said Tokyo was also considering plans to introduce sanctions against Russia targeting the country’s energy and financial sectors. Meanwhile, analysts believe Japan would not support the harsher sanctions.

The latest move signals that Japan seeks to reduce the impact on its relations with Moscow and continue the political course for coordinating its actions with the United States and the European Union, Deputy Secretary of Japanese Government Hiroshige Seko sad earlier. “We will take the necessary measures judging from situation around Ukraine and also actions of the US and the EU,” he told reporters.

Japan's sanctions against Russia

In April, Tokyo said it suspended issuing entry visas to 23 Russian nationals but their names had not been made public. Japan also suspended consultations with Russia on easing the visa regime and refused to start talks on a number of other issues, including in the area of economic cooperation. In July, the Japanese government said it would freeze assets of 40 more people and two Crimean companies.

However, Japanese officials said these measures were “symbolic” and aimed at showing solidarity with the US and EU actions. In particular, Tokyo has so far avoided any measures targeting economic relations with Russia.

Western sanctons against Russia

Since March, the United States and the European Union have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Moscow over its stance on the conflict in Ukraine. Moscow has responded by introducing a one-year ban on imports of selected foods from sanctioning countries (the EU, US and several others).

In mid-September, Brussels introduced further sanctions, for the first time targeting directly the financing of the state-owned oil sector, which is crucial to the Russian economy. Washington similarly strengthened its sanctions, adding Russia’s Gazprom, Europe’s leading energy provider, to the list of targeted companies.

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