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Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Press Conference by Prime Minister Kishida

April 8, 2022

[Provisional translation]
 

[Opening Statement]

Today my remarks will focus on further sanctions to be taken by Japan in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Brutal and inhumane acts committed by Russia are coming to light one after the other, not only in Bucha on the outskirts of Kyiv, but also in various other locations in Ukraine. Russia has until now repeatedly committed grave violations of international humanitarian law, including the killing of civilians and an assault on a nuclear power plant. These are absolutely intolerable war crimes. Russia must be held strictly accountable for any such kinds of inhumane acts it has committed. Taking this standpoint, Japan will support the inquiry by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the independent inquiry by the United Nations. We will back the investigation into war crimes by ICC prosecutors by accelerating the schedule for payment of Japan’s contribution towards the ICC and other means.

Last night, we agreed on a G7 Leaders’ Statement which condemns the appalling atrocities committed by Russian armed forces in the strongest terms and displays solidarity with Ukraine. We also announced that the G7 will take additional sanctions against Russia. In accordance with this G7 Leaders’ Statement, Japan will implement additional sanctions against Russia consisting of the following five pillars while also intensifying our diplomatic and economic pressure on Russia.

Acting in unity with the international community, we will impose strong sanctions in order to stop any further escalation, realize a ceasefire at the earliest possible moment, and force an end to the aggression.

The first pillar is to prohibit the importation of coal from Russia. We will line up alternatives immediately and gradually reduce our imports, thereby lowering our reliance on Russia in the energy sector. In order to avoid tight supply and demand for power in the summer and winter, we will maximize our usage of energy sources that are highly effective in terms of energy security and decarbonization, including renewable energies and nuclear energy.

The second is the introduction of measures to prohibit imports from Russia. Next week we will introduce measures to prohibit imports from Russia of machinery, some types of wood, vodka, and other items.

The third pillar is to introduce measures to prohibit new investments in Russia. We will be swift in introducing these measures, in cooperation with the other members of the G7.

The fourth is the further strengthening of financial sanctions. We will freeze the assets of Sberbank and Alfa Bank, both Russia’s largest banks.

The fifth pillar of our sanctions is further expanding the list of those subject to having their assets frozen. Nearly 400 people related to Russia’s armed forces and national legislators, and furthermore approximately 20 military-related organizations, including state-owned enterprises, will be newly added to the list subject to sanctions. Through this the number of individuals subject to the sanction of frozen assets will expand to roughly 550 in total, while the number of organizations will expand to roughly 40 overall.

Next, regarding support that is well in touch with the needs of the people of Ukraine and assistance to Japanese expatriates, I will overview two points.

The first is personnel contributions to countries neighboring Ukraine. We have already dispatched a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) needs assessment survey team to Moldova, and in addition to conducting the needs assessment for healthcare and medical assistance, at the dispatch location, the team is contributing to medical data management and other areas through cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, a government survey mission on peacekeeping operations (PKO) has also been dispatched from this week. We will swiftly materialize further personnel contributions, also taking into account the needs on the ground.

The second concerns accepting evacuees from Ukraine and providing assistance to Japanese expatriates still in Ukraine. I also addressed this yesterday, but in order to enable evacuees from Ukraine to continue to travel smoothly to Japan, over the near term, each week the Government of Japan will secure seats on direct flights from Poland, thereby assisting in their journey to Japan. The first of these flights will depart for Japan right away, today. We will also allow the use of these flights for Japanese nationals resident in Ukraine who are having difficulty in securing a way to Japan on their own.

Energy and food prices are rising sharply because of Russian aggression against Ukraine. It is people in not only Japan but also countries around the world who are struggling in the face of spiraling prices for gasoline, electricity, food, and so on. In order to stabilize energy markets, as we announced yesterday, in coordination with other International Energy Agency (IEA) member countries, Japan has decided to release 15 million barrels of oil reserves, an amount 1.5 times the amount assigned to us by the IEA. This is the first time for Japan to release oil from our national reserves. Japan will continue to reliably engage in actions it is able to undertake.

Moreover, in order for the Government to respond urgently and agilely to the impacts upon people’s daily lives caused by these soaring crude oil prices and commodity prices, within April we will compile comprehensive emergency measures to counter sharply rising crude oil prices, commodity prices, and the like. We will be swift in taking the greatest possible measures both internationally and domestically to protect the daily lives of our citizens. We are now at a critical juncture for ending the inhumane aggression and defending a peaceful world order. I ask the public for their understanding and cooperation in this regard.

The other day, in his address to the Japanese Diet, President Zelensky said that Japan was the first in Asia to apply pressure to Russia and that he wanted Japan to continue its sanctions. He also appealed to us with his earnest desire for us to make our best efforts so that Russia seeks peace.  We will respond dependably to such calls for action.

Japan, in cooperation with the other G7 members and other relevant countries, and indeed, the larger international community, will not tolerate Russian aggression. And, Japan stands together with Ukraine. Japan will demonstrate these points through its resolute actions as well as through its assistance that is well in tune with the needs of the Ukrainian people.

Thank you.

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