Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has criticized Russia's move to annex the Ukrainian region of Crimea. He said he will consider further sanctions against the country.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated Wednesday that Japan could impose additional sanctions on Russia following Moscow's declaration that it would absorb the Crimea region of Ukraine despite a chorus of criticism from Western nations led by the United States.
"We will examine further steps against Russia," Abe told a Diet session. "We criticize (Russia's annexation of Crimea) for breaching Ukraine's unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Japan announced Tuesday a set of measures to punish Russia for intervening in Ukraine, including suspension of talks for easing visa issuance conditions, in a move that fell in line with steps taken by the United States and European countries.
Abe did not clearly mention what steps Japan could take as additional sanctions but government officials suggested they may involve travel bans or asset freezes targeting some Russians.
The premier said he expects to join other Group of Seven leaders in a meeting next week in the Netherlands to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.
The G-7 countries of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States are planning to hold informal talks on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit on Monday and Tuesday in The Hague.
The seven plus Russia comprise another major forum, the Group of Eight, which recently suspended preparations for this year's summit, scheduled for June in Sochi, Russia, in response to the Ukraine crisis.
"I will deal with the issue appropriately while cooperating with the G-7 and other countries," Abe told the session of the House of Councillors' Budget Committee.
"Japan never accepts any attempt to change the status quo with force," he said, referring to the signing Tuesday by Russian President Vladimir Putin of a treaty with Crimea's new premier to complete the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula.
In Crimea, residents overwhelmingly backed leaving Ukraine and joining Russia in Sunday's referendum. Tokyo, along with its partners, regards the referendum as illegal.
Abe also said he will "continue to call on Russia to address the situation peacefully."