The National Times - Japan ends Russian coal imports, expels diplomats

Japan ends Russian coal imports, expels diplomats

Japan ends Russian coal imports, expels diplomats
Japan ends Russian coal imports, expels diplomats

Japan said Friday it will end imports of Russian coal and announced the expulsion of eight of Moscow's diplomats over "war crimes" in Ukraine.

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The move comes as Ukraine's allies step up pressure on Moscow after allegations that Russian troops killed civilians in areas around Kyiv.

"Russian troops have killed civilians and have attacked nuclear facilities, gravely violating international humanitarian law. These are war crimes that can never be forgiven," Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

"We will ban imports of Russian coal," he added, pledging to find alternatives and asking Japanese citizens for their "understanding and cooperation."

Japan imports around 11 percent of its coal from Russia, and the fuel remains a key plank of the country's power generation.

Kishida said Japan would, in line with other Group of Seven developed nations, work to decrease its reliance on other energy imports from Russia, which include oil and gas, but he gave no specific timeframe.

He also outlined fresh sanctions, including new asset freezes and a ban on imports from Russia, including machinery and vodka, and said Tokyo would back efforts to investigate Moscow's actions at the International Criminal Court.

Earlier, Japan's foreign ministry announced the expulsion of eight Russian diplomats from the embassy and trade office.

The decision does not affect Russia's ambassador Mikhail Yurievich Galuzin.

Japan has marched in lockstep with Western allies on sanctions against Russia, and has even welcomed several hundred Ukrainians fleeing the conflict despite generally accepting very few refugees.

Tokyo had complex relations with Moscow before the Ukrainian invasion and the two sides have yet to sign a post-World War II peace treaty.

Attempts to do so have been hampered by a long-running dispute over islands controlled by Russia, which calls them the Kurils.

Japan calls the islands the Northern Territories and has long sought to have them under Tokyo's control.