Japan’s Sony and Nintendo halt business in Russia

The firms are the latest global brands to join a growing exodus from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

Sony Corporation's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan
Japanese gaming giants Sony and Nintendo have announced they are suspending shipments to Russia [File: Toru Hanai/Bloomberg] (Bloomberg)

Japanese gaming giants Sony and Nintendo have halted shipments to Russia, joining a growing list of global brands that are exiting the country following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sony Interactive Entertainment, the manufacturer of the PlayStation 5, said on Thursday it has suspended the launch of racing game “Gran Turismo 7” and operations of the PlayStation Store in Russia.

Sony Group also said it donated $2m to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Save the Children “to support the victims of this tragedy”.

Nintendo said it is suspending all exports to Russia “for the foreseeable future,” citing “volatility surrounding the logistics of shipping and distributing physical goods”.

The Kyoto-based firm, the maker of the popular Switch console, also said it has delayed the release of turn-based strategy game “Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp”, which was due to launch on April 8.

Nintendo last week said it put its eShop under maintenance in Russia after its payment provider suspended transactions in Russian roubles.

Also on Thursday, Hitachi, one of Japan’s biggest electronics and construction equipment makers, said it would suspend operations in Russia, citing “multiple factors including the supply chain situation”.

Hitachi made the announcement days after Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov urged the company to cut ties with Russia on social media, although it did not link the decision to Ukrainian pressure.

Corporate exodus

The moves come amid an unprecedented industry-spanning exodus of mostly Western brands from Russia, including Shell, Apple, Disney, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Ikea.

Japanese carmakers and airlines have also halted exports to Russia and suspended flights to Europe, respectively, citing logistical issues and safety concerns.

Japan, one of the United States’ closest allies, has adopted a tougher line against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military operation against Ukraine than other countries in the region, where most governments have declined to assign blame for the conflict.

Tokyo said on Tuesday it would freeze the assets of dozens of Russian and Belarusian officials and oligarchs, after earlier announcing sanctions targeting Russia’s central bank and the country’s access to the SWIFT international payments system.

Apart from Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan have announced sanctions against Moscow, while Indonesia said it condemns “any action that clearly constitutes a violation of the territory and sovereignty of a country.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies