Russia has banned 384 Japanese lawmakers from entering its territory in response to Tokyo aligning itself with international sanctions against Moscow over its war on Ukraine.
The Russian foreign ministry on Friday blacklisted the Japanese parliamentarians, naming them on its website and accusing them of “adopting an unfriendly, anti-Russian position notably by expressing unfounded accusations against our country concerning the special military operation in Ukraine”.
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Tokyo has hit Russia with harsh sanctions for invading Ukraine, joining the G7 in freezing Russian central bank assets.
Tension between Tokyo and Moscow has grown since Russian forces declared war on Kyiv.
In February, after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he was sending troops into Ukraine, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida termed Moscow’s move an unacceptable violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and international law.
“Russia’s actions very clearly damage Ukraine’s sovereignty and go against international law. We once again criticise these moves and strongly urge Russia to return to diplomatic discussions,” he said at the time.
On July 1, Russia published a decree transferring Japan’s stake in the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project on Sakhalin, an island in Russia’s far east, to a Russian operator.
The bulk of the Sakhalin-2 project’s liquid natural gas (LNG) output had until now been delivered to Japan.
Tokyo had earlier indicated it hoped to retain its stake, saying participation in the project was essential to its energy security as Japan is highly dependent on fossil fuel imports.
Approximately 8 percent of Japan’s LNG imports have so far come from Russia.
In May, the Russian foreign ministry said it had banned entry to several dozen Japanese officials, including Prime Minister Kishida, over Tokyo’s joining international sanctions against Moscow.