The Japanese government said Tuesday it will maintain sanctions on Russia while working in tandem with other Group of Seven nations as the war in Ukraine is set to enter its seventh month with no end in sight.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who attended a meeting of ministers and senior ministry officials virtually as he has contracted COVID-19, instructed them to craft measures to address rising energy prices prompted by the ongoing war.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a regular news conference the meeting was an opportunity for Kishida to share understanding of the current situation surrounding the war with new cabinet members who joined in a recent reshuffle.
“The government will remain on high alert in gathering information and will respond as one,” said Matsuno.
While criticizing Russia’s aggression as shaking the international order to its foundation, Matsuno added, “We are seriously concerned about the possibility of nuclear weapons being used in the invasion of Ukraine.”
Shortly after the war was launched, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the military to put the country’s nuclear forces on high alert.
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters after the meeting Kishida has instructed him to continue Japan’s “diplomatic responses,” including imposing sanctions, while also ensuring safety of Japanese nationals in Russia and Ukraine and securing Japan’s system of defense.
“Unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force could occur in the Indo-Pacific region” as well, Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada separately said to reporters, adding he will strengthen Japan’s defenses.
The meeting was also attended by industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura and Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki.
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, prompting Japan and other G7 nations to impose various sanctions, including freezing assets of President Vladimir Putin and excluding some major Russian lenders from a key international payment network known as SWIFT.
The countries have also vowed to phase out their dependence on Russian energy resources.