"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Press Conference by the Prime Minister regarding Japan’s Response to the Situation in Ukraine

[Date] February 27, 2022
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional Translation
[Full text]

Today I was scheduled to have a telephone discussion with President Zelensky of Ukraine, but we were contacted from the Ukrainian side that Mr. Zelensky would like to reschedule our talk for a different date because of the current state of emergency that has arisen. In light of the fact that such a state of emergency now exists, I will reiterate that Japan stands together with the citizens of Ukraine who are doing their utmost in taking actions to defend their sovereignty and territory, as well as their homeland and their families. Also, in addition to the loans at a scale of US$100 million we already announced, Japan will provide emergency humanitarian assistance of US$100 million as humanitarian assistance for Ukrainian people facing hardship.

The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia is an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force. It is an act that undermines the very foundation of the international order. It constitutes a blatant violation of international law. As such, it is unacceptable, and I condemn it in the strongest terms. Now is the time for us to unite in taking resolute actions in order to defend the foundation of the international order fully. Japan will decisively take actions to demonstrate this stance. We will show clearly that this kind of outrage comes with a heavy price. The international community now believes that because of Russian aggression, it can no longer carry on relations with Russia in the same way it used to. Together with the other members of the G7 and the international community as a whole, Japan will impose even more stringent sanctions on Russia.

From that perspective, Japan has decided to impose sanctions that include the freezing of assets of persons related to the Government of Russia, including President Putin. And, in the announcement issued this morning by European nations and the U.S., Europe and the U.S. will be taking measures to isolate Russia from the international financial system and the global economy by excluding selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system. Europe and the United States have requested our participation with regard to their statement and Japan will also join in with this effort. The other members of the G7 have expressed their emphatic welcome to Japan’s engagement in this initiative. I intend to have Ambassador Matsuda convey this to President Zelensky there in Ukraine. Thank you.

(On why Japan released a statement regarding the SWIFT messaging system later than the U.S. and European countries)

I do not think it was late. Japan has been responding to this situation in cooperation with the G7 and the wider international community and our stance on that will remain unchanged. This was a statement coordinated between European countries and the United States and issued under a framework of Atlantic cooperation. There have also been voices from Europe and the U.S. within Japan calling for us to participate with regard to this statement and we have taken the decision that Japan will also join in with these efforts. As I mentioned earlier, the other G7 members have indicated that they heartily welcome Japan’s collaboration with this effort.

(On the future of joint economic activities on the four Northern Islands)

First of all, regarding the issue of the Northern Territories, I have tenaciously advanced negotiations with Russia over the years under the principle of resolving the territorial issue and concluding a peace treaty without leaving it to the next generation. However, the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia undermines the very foundation of the international order as an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force. It is critical for Japan to unite with the G7 and the wider international community and take resolute actions in response. Neither Japan’s stance regarding the issue of the Northern Territories, nor my own personal desire to somehow respond to the feelings of the former island residents who are now at an advanced age, has changed one iota. But in view of the situation now, at this particular time, I do not believe we are in a situation where I am able to make any statements regarding the prospects for peace treaty negotiations.

(On the protection and evacuation of Japanese nationals in Ukraine)

There continue to be Japanese nationals remaining in Ukraine because they are members of Ukrainian families or other reasons. Ambassador Matsuda and others are there on the ground in Kyiv and continue to work to confirm the safety of such people and assist in this evacuation, and the Government is also providing thoroughgoing support for that. Even as we continue to make these efforts, the situation is chaotic. We will continue our efforts to ensure the safety of our nationals while we maintain close communication with our staff there in Ukraine. The Government of Japan is working to make every possible preparation, including chartering aircraft, to assist the efforts of our staff there in Ukraine in a comprehensive way.

(On Japan’s response with regard to the SWIFT messaging system)

The crux of the matter is that SWIFT is a private-sector entity, and the United States and Europe released their statement after ironing out various matters with them. The Government of Japan is also being called on ardently to participate with the content of their statement, and we are now engaged in coordination with regard to that content. Japan has made the decision to support, or join, those efforts, while engaging in solid communication with the other countries involved.

(On the state of examining sanctions on Belarus)

We are engaged in various discussions and an examination of the matter, but at present, we have not reached a concrete decision. We will continue to make a thorough assessment of the situation and respond appropriately based on that.

(On Russian Cabinet ministers besides President Putin who will be subject to sanctions)

We have decided to impose the sanction of freezing the assets of persons involved in the Russian government besides President Putin -- naturally, this will include persons involved in the Russian government beyond President Putin. As for specifics regarding which Russian persons or entities will be subject to this sanction, or what sort of Russian person and entity related to the Government will be subject to this sanction, we are currently working urgently to confirm what is appropriate to do regarding the targets of the sanction. We will make that confirmation without delay.