Japan’s policy towards Russia against the backdrop of events in Ukraine



The growing mutual misunderstanding and disappointment with the lack of progress in resolving the territorial issue, the expansion of partnership with the United States and the escalation of the situation around Ukraine are forcing Japan to reconsider its attitude towards Russia and the Ukrainian crisis. We have seen this in several recent examples.

Tokyo plans to negotiate sanctions against Russia with the United States

Sanctions against Russia, which Japan may impose in the event of an invasion of Ukraine, will be agreed with Western partners. This was announced on February 14 at a meeting with the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Japan is considering various options for sanctions, depending on the degree of escalation in Ukraine. In particular, options for export restrictions and asset freezes are being considered. It is noted that currently there are agreements between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan.

Japan will supply its liquefied natural gas to Europe

The Japanese authorities are ready to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe in case of interruptions due to the aggravation of the situation around Ukraine. According to the NHK television channel, the country’s authorities gave a positive response to a corresponding request from the administration of US President Joe Biden.

The first batches should arrive in Europe in March. Koichi Hagyuda, Minister of Commerce of Japan, stated:

“Japan still has enough LNG reserves to meet domestic needs, although not to say that in excess. But when the situation in the world becomes like it is now with regard to Ukraine, Japan should support the G7 countries, especially those that have common with Japan values”.

US support for Tokyo’s position regarding the territorial affiliation of the South Kuril Islands

US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, who arrived in the country on his post in January 2022, on Northern Territories Day, posted a video on the embassy’s official account in which he declares the United States’ support for Japan in the territorial dispute with Russia.

On February 7th, as Japan observes Northern Territories day, I want to be crystal clear, the United States supports Japan on the issue of the Northern Territories and has recognized Japanese sovereignty over the four disputed Islands since the 1950s,” — said Emanuel in a video message.

The interaction between the leaders of Japan and the United States is developing

On February 11 in Melbourne, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi discussed the situation around Ukraine and confirmed their intention to work closely to contain Russia, as well as support Europe’s energy security against the backdrop of challenges from Russia. This was officially announced in the US State Department following a meeting between the top diplomats of the US and Japan. In addition, earlier, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and US President Joe Biden, during online talks on January 21, decided to continue close cooperation aimed at coordinating actions against Russian measures in Ukraine.

According to The Japan Times, the interaction between the leaders of Japan and the United States is developing: the first leader of a foreign state with whom Kishida held telephone conversations after taking office was Biden, and in November the politicians met on the sidelines of the climate summit in Glasgow, Britain. At the beginning of this year, they held a virtual meeting, at which, among other things, they agreed to start a dialogue on economic issues at the cabinet level in the “two plus two” format.

However, not without obstacles…

While Japan is actively supporting Washington’s stance as the crisis in Ukraine develops, many experts note that Tokyo is wary of undermining its chances of a deal with Russia over the disputed Kuril Islands and strengthening the Russian-Chinese partnership. Moreover, according to The Wall Street Journal the US campaign to expand the alliance to contain Russia is running into obstacles in Japan, which depends on Russian energy imports and wants to keep talks with Moscow over the disputed islands.


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