Press Conference by the Prime Minister
February 25, 2022
Yesterday, February 24, Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine. With the international community making a wide range of diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions, Japan has also actively urged Russia at different levels to resolve the situation through diplomacy. I myself had a Japan-Russia summit telephone talk last week on the 17th and made a direct appeal to President Putin that Russia should pursue a solution acceptable to the countries concerned through diplomatic negotiations, rather than by unilateral changing the status quo by force. I also made a point of emphasizing the strength of the unity of the G7 and EU, and the wider international community, through telephone talks with the leaders of nations including Ukraine, G7 leaders' video conferences, and other diplomatic occasions.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, launched despite these earnest efforts by the international community, is an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force. It is an infringement of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and constitutes a blatant violation of international law. As an act that undermines the very foundation of the international order, it is unacceptable, and I condemn it in the strongest terms. It is also not something Japan can overlook from a national security standpoint. We continue to work in close cooperation with the G7 as well as the international community as a whole, and strongly urge Russia to immediately withdraw its troops from Ukraine and observe international law.
In light of the ongoing situation, as our first commitment, Japan will reinforce its sanctions on Russia in close coordination with the other G7 nations and the wider international community. Specifically, in addition to the sanctions we announced on the 23rd, we will impose sanctions on Russian individuals and entities by freezing their assets and suspending the issuance of visas. A second area will be sanctions in the field of finance, namely freezing the assets of Russian financial institutions. A third area will be sanctions on exports to Russian military-related organizations and other exports to Russia of items on the export control list created through international agreement, as well as generic goods including semiconductors. We will swiftly implement measures in these three areas.
Our second commitment is to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals residing in Ukraine. We have on multiple occasions called on Japanese nationals there to evacuate, and as of February 23, there are roughly 120 Japanese nationals choosing of their own volition to remain, such as those with Ukrainian family members. In this increasingly difficult situation, we will continue to do everything we can to ensure the safety of people such as these. Specifically, Ambassador Matsuda and the other members of the Embassy of Japan in Ukraine will take all possible measures to protect them. We have set up a temporary liaison office in Lviv in the western part of the country to provide assistance if Japanese nationals should evacuate by land to Poland, which neighbors Ukraine. We expect to receive cooperation from the Government of Poland in smoothly accepting Japanese nationals. We have already chartered planes to transfer evacuees from Poland to another country.
As our third commitment, we will advance our diplomatic efforts. I myself will actively engage in summit-level diplomacy and we will work in close cooperation with the G7 and the international community as a whole at multiple levels.
Our fourth commitment is to endeavor to keep to a minimum the various negative impacts this situation has on Japan’s economy and society. The first is with regard to a stable energy supply; currently, the global supply of crude oil has not been disrupted as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and our economic sanctions on Russia do not directly impede our energy supply. At present, the Japanese Government and private sector have a combined domestic stockpile of about 240 days' worth of crude oil. As for liquefied natural gas (LNG), our electric and gas utilities have enough stock to last two to three weeks. As such, we expect no immediate, major disruption to the stable supply of energy. We will take necessary countermeasures in an agile manner, working closely with the nations and international organizations concerned. These measures may include tapping our reserves through international collaboration, for which we have been in consultations with the IEA and other countries concerned, and actively urging oil- and gas-producing countries to increase production. We will engage in all possible means to stabilize the international energy market and ensure a stable supply of energy to Japan.
Also, we will do our utmost to minimize the negative impacts of sharp rises in fuel prices, including for crude oil, on people's daily lives and on business activities. Concretely speaking, in the near term, we will significantly expand and intensify our activities to dampen down drastic fluctuations in fuel prices, and thereby keep sudden retail price surges in check. With these countermeasures at the core, we will, at ministerial meetings set up under the Chief Cabinet Secretary, urgently compile emergency measures that will include industry-specific measures, support for regional efforts, and measures to assist small- and medium-sized enterprises, among other initiatives. With regard to the price of electricity and natural gas as well, we will engage in efforts that keep utility prices from rising sharply even if fuel prices increase.
In addition, we will take measures to support Japanese companies whose import/export business activities are affected, including through the swift payment of trade insurance claims.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a serious situation that undermines the very foundation of the international order. We will respond by working in close cooperation with the G7 and the international community as a whole. As for more specifics, officials of key ministries and agencies will provide you with more information after this press conference concludes.