Friday, May 9, 2014

May 2 - 8, 2014

Nationalists In Japan Become Internet Savvy

On 18 September 2009, a person using the online name of ‘xegnojw’ posted a four-minute video on YouTube entitled ‘Japanese Racists Hoot Down Korean Tourists in Tsushima’. It depicted members of a Japanese nationalist group harassing Korean tourists on Tsushima, a Japanese island 138 km from Fukuoka and 50km from Busan.  
This island has been attracting attention from Japanese nationalists because of the increasing presence of Korean tourists and Korean investment since the 2002 opening of high-speed ferry service between Busan and Tsushima. Nationalist campaigns over the island intensified when Korea’s Masan City adopted the ‘Tsushima Day’ bill in 2005, claiming that Tsushima should be a Korean territory, thereby countering Shimane prefecture’s ‘Takeshima Day’, establishing Japanese claim to Korea’s Dokdo island. 
The YouTube video in question captured several flag-holding Japanese men and women yelling: ‘Go home, Koreans!’ and ‘We won’t allow a Korean invasion!’ at tourists fresh off the ferry from Busan. Though not physically violent, the atmosphere was tense and disturbing.

Full Story from Asian Pacific Journal

Japanese Navy To Conduct Island Defense Drills

Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces will conduct a military exercise this month to practice defending an island, the Defense Ministry said, underscoring concern about East China Sea islands controlled by Japan but claimed by China.
The dispute over the islands, called the Senkaku are Japanese but are claimed by China, has raised fears of a clash between the Asian neighbors which could even drag in the United States.
The Defense Ministry said the island defense exercise would run from May 10 to May 27 on a small uninhabited island in the Ryukyu chain, some 600 km northeast of the disputed isles.
Some parts of the exercise will be held in southwestern Japan’s Nagasaki prefecture and waters off Okinawa Island’s east coast. Okinawa is home is a major U.S. military base and Japan also bases forces there.
It will be the first time that the Naval Self-Defense Forces will use an actual island for island defense training involving its ground, air, sea and marine divisions.
About 1,300 troops, as well as several fighter jets and destroyers, will practice landing on and retaking an island, the ministry said.
But it said the exercise was not a response to the tension with China.
“Boosting island defense is something that has been mentioned in the defense white paper in recent years. This is not a drill that is responding to the current security situation surrounding Japan,” a ministry spokesman said.
U.S. President Barack Obama said last week while on a visit to Japan that the disputed islands were covered by a U.S.-Japan security treaty, angering China.
Last month, Japan announced it would break ground on a radar base in the area, on a tropical Japanese island close to Taiwan.
The radar station on Yonaguni Island, just 150 km from the disputed islands in the East China Sea, marks Japan’s first military expansion at the western end of its island chain in more than 40 years. 
Abe Lied About Fukushima Dangers To Win Tokyo 2020 Olympics
On September 7, 2013 Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the International Olympic Committee (IOC): "Some may have concerns about Fukushima. Let me assure you, the situation is under control. It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo." After hearing him, the IOC awarded the 2020 Olympic bid to Tokyo.

But on October 6, 2013, the Associated Press (AP) reported that Mr. Abe, speaking in English, told an international science conference hosted by the city and Kyoto Prefecture: "Our country needs your knowledge and expertise in coping with the aftermath of the triple meltdown triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. We are wide open to receive the most advanced knowledge from overseas to contain the problem." AP noted that Mr. Abe requested more foreign assistance in cleaning up the Fukushima No. 1 power plant where work "has been plagued by the radioactive water crisis."

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, the BBC’s correspondent in Japan, reported the "devastating" conclusions of Professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa who chaired the Japanese parliamentary inquiry into the Fukushima disaster. "It was, he told me: ‘Man-made, and made in Japan’."

Tatsujiro Suzuki, the deputy head of Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission, had also been damning, wrote Wingfield-Hayes: "There were studies which showed a one-in-1,000-year probability of the Fukushima coast being hit by a 10m tsunami," he said. "Unfortunately, those studies were dismissed. The nuclear industry didn’t think it would happen, so they didn’t prepare for it."

"For me, this is the most revealing and shocking part of the Fukushima story," added Wingfield-Hayes. "There was no plan for how to deal with such a large and complex disaster. How was this allowed to happen?"

The answer was provided by Prof. Kurokawa, who called it ‘regulatory capture’, a process by which the nuclear power industry ‘captured’ the bureaucracy that was supposed to regulate it. [That’s a universal fact/phenomenon, including in our own little hideaway in the Indian Ocean where the bureaucracy has already been suitably ‘conditioned’ well ahead of nuclear’s possible arrival!]

Wrote Wingfield-Hayes: "Put crudely, the ‘poachers’ and the ‘gamekeepers’ were far too close. Many senior bureaucrats from Japan’s Nuclear Industry Safety Agency would take lucrative jobs in the nuclear industry after leaving government. The result was a nuclear industry imbued with a culture of arrogance, secrecy and complacency. Lessons learned after Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island in the US were not implemented here. When disaster struck, Japan was woefully ill-prepared.

"An investigation by Japan’s NHK broadcaster last year found that simple equipment, things like mobile generators and battery packs that could have helped prevent the meltdowns, were sitting at a depot just 25 miles from the Fukushima plant. After the tsunami knocked out the plant’s electrical system there was still time to bring in the back-up equipment. Army helicopters were on standby. But there was no plan. Chaos ensued. "A senior company official in charge of logistics was asked by the NHK team why he had not dispatched the equipment. "We had a very long list of things they needed. We had no way to prioritize which should go first," he said.

"And so the back-up equipment stayed in the depot, and the reactor cores melted down."

Concluded Wingfield-Hayes: "Finally let me end by quoting again Tatsujiro Suzuki, the deputy head of Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission. I asked him why, if the nuclear industry knows there is a possibility of a disaster, does it continue to tell the public nuclear power is safe?

"We need to be prepared for the worst case. We need to tell the public this is the worst case. But if we tell the worst case, the public says, ‘Don’t build the reactor near here.’ So that was the dilemma. And if you want to continue building nuclear power plants you have to keep telling people the reactors should be safe. But now that myth is gone," said Suzuki.

Takashi Hirose, author of Fukushima Meltdown: The World’s First Earthquake-Tsunami Nuclear Meltdown, in an open letter addressed to ‘All young athletes dreaming of coming to Tokyo in 2020’ reminded them that two weeks after Mr. Abe had held out a total and unqualified guarantee to the IOC about Tokyo being damage-free, post-Fukushima, Tokyo’s Governor Naoki Inose told a press conference that what Abe expressed to the IOC was his intention to get the situation under control. "It is not," Inose said, "under control now."

Among the points Hirose reminded likely participants at the 2020 Olympics:

* In a residential area park in Tokyo, 230 km from Fukushima, the soil was found to have a radiation level of 92,335 Becquerels per square meter. This is a dangerous level, comparable to what is found around Chernobyl (at the site of a nuclear catastrophe in 1986). One reason for this level of pollution is that between Tokyo and Fukushima there are no mountains high enough to block radioactive clouds.

* The water being poured into the reactor (to keep it cool) is now considered the big problem in Japan. Newspapers and TV stations that previously strove to conceal the danger of nuclear power, are now reporting on this danger every day. The issue is that the highly irradiated water is entering and mixing with the ground water, and this leakage can’t be stopped, so it is spilling into the Pacific Ocean. It is a situation impossible to control.

* In August, 2013 (the month prior to Abe’s IOC speech) within the site of Fukushima Daiichi Reactor, radiation was measured at 8500 micro Sieverts per hour. That is enough to kill anyone who stayed there for a month. This makes it a very hard place for the workers to get anything done.

* Vegetables and fish from around the Tokyo area, even if they are irradiated, are not thrown away . . . which is to say that, in Japan today, as the entire country has been contaminated, we have no choice but to put irradiated garbage on the dinner table. In particular, food distributed by the major food companies, and food served in expensive restaurants, is almost never tested for radiation.

Given Japan’s persistent denials of danger, and that radiation in the Pacific Ocean "has not yet exceeded safety standards", Hiroshe recalled the old joke of the man who jumped off a ten-storey building and, as he passed each floor, was heard whispering: so far, so good."

If that’s not living in a fool’s paradise, what is?

By Selvam Canagaratna

Former Worker At Fukushima To Sue TEPCO

A 48-year-old former contract employee at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has filed a damages suit against plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), claiming the company exposed him and other workers to dangerously high levels of radiation.
The man was among hundreds of contract employees sent in to work at the plant, following the catastrophic events of March 11, 2011.
The man told a news conference in Tokyo that he was sent to work at the plant only two weeks after the earthquake and tsunami, and came into contact with large amounts of accumulated radioactive water, which according to reports, was measured at over 20 millisieverts per hour, TBS reported Thursday.
He filed the lawsuit against TEPCO on the grounds that although TEPCO knew that a large amount of dangerously high radioactive water was present on site, they did not divulge that information to workers.
The man is seeking a settlement of 11 million yen in the Fukushima District Court.
Japan Today

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Constitution Day Shows Fragmenting Opinions Among Japanese

Differing platforms of political parties in Japan
on constitution revision

As the nation marked the 67th anniversary of the enforcement of the Constitution on Saturday, the certainty that a bill revising the National Referendum Law will be passed in the current Diet session makes it likely that constitutional amendment will occur.
The National Referendum Law sets procedures for constitutional revisions.
In a statement released Saturday—Constitution Day—the Liberal Democratic Party said: “We have entered the stage of discussing how to amend [the Constitution], not whether the Constitution should be revised or kept unchanged. We will push for constitutional amendments and legal arrangements in the face of rising tensions in international circumstances.”
Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) also released a statement signed by its acting leader Takeo Hiranuma, vowing to lead Diet discussions on the matter.
Other parties also released statements regarding the Constitution on the same day. Eight out of 10 leading and opposition parties have agreed to drive forward discussions to revise the Constitution, while the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party oppose such revisions. A focal point is now expected to be what provisions would be amended.
Hajime Funada, head of the LDP’s body promoting revisions to the Constitution, said during a Thursday meeting of a nonpartisan group of lawmakers that aims to establish a new constitution, “Under the eight-party agreement, I want to draw up a first-draft constitution with support from as many parties as possible.”
The eight parties, including the LDP and its ruling coalition partner New Komeito along with the main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, reached an agreement to revise the National Referendum Law during the current Diet session.
Funada’s remarks indicated that he intends to win backing from many parties for the initiative to amend the Constitution as well.
However, the eight parties do not necessarily share identical stands. They are split over the specifics of constitutional amendment.
In April 2012, the LDP unveiled a draft constitutional amendment plan that seeks to review all provisions. The plan calls for the Constitution to refer to the nation’s right to self defense in Article 9, as well as to add new provisions for establishing a national defense force and responding to an armed attack. However, Komeito is cautious about drastic revisions to Article 9, and instead favors the addition of new principles and provisions without changing the existing content of the Constitution. It proposes adding new human rights, such as an environmental right, and expanding the authority of local governments.
Parties Ishin no Kai, Your Party and Yui no To intend to push for the decentralization of power by introducing a so-called doshu system for reorganizing prefectures into larger regional government units through constitutional revisions, for example. The three parties have also called for a one-chamber Diet system, but some LDP members strongly oppose the idea.
Any constitutional amendments must be proposed by the Diet and then approved by a majority vote in a national referendum.
“If the initiative is rejected in the first national referendum, it would be difficult to bring it to a second national referendum,” a senior LDP member said.
In light of this, observers say the parties are likely to accelerate discussions on provisions regarding new human rights and emergency responses, on which they would find it easier to agree. The parties are also expected to have heated discussions on the easing of procedures for constitutional revisions, which has been proposed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The Japan News

Friday, May 2, 2014

Another Peruvian Child Bullied In Japan By Japanese Classmates

One week after it was revealed by Consul General of Peru, Julio Cardenas, that a 13 year old Peruvian girl had been raped by 5 Japanese classmates, a second case of a Japanese racist attack has emerged in Kanazawa.

A 12 year old Peruvian boy was savagely beaten by two Japanese boys of the same age.  The Japanese boys had a history of bullying the boy at school a teacher at the boys' school said.  The teacher wishing to be unnamed said, "The two boys have been bullying the Peruvian boy for the last year.  They have been known to use racist names, trip the boy, and to write racist notes to him.  The principal had a meeting with their parents in February and things seemed to have gotten better."

Unfortunately, they had not gotten better.  Three weeks ago the two Japanese boys confronted the Peruvian as he rode his bicycle home after school.  One boy pushed him off the bike and when he tried to defend himself, the second boy came from behind and beat him on the head with an empty drink can.

A witness says they continued to beat him after he fell to the ground, and did not stop even as he bled from his nose and the wounds on his head.  They only stopped when an unidentified Japanese man stepped in.  The Japanese attackers ran off and the man called police.  Knowing where the boy lived the man then went to the boy's home to tell his mother.  The man returned with the mother just as Kanazawa police arrived.

After an initial investigation at the scene, an officer went to one of the attackers' home and talked to the accused and his mother.  The accused then took the officer to the second accused home where the officer talked with his mother.  The officer returned to the scene where an ambulance crew had arrived and began treating the victim's injuries.  The boy was taken to a hospital where he was treated, and xrays showed no serious injury his skull, so he was released.

Police the next day arrived to the victim's home with an offer from the parents of the attackers of money for the medical treatment and a small amount of apology money.  When the mother refused so she could get legal consultation, the police informed her their offer would only be made once.

An attorney procured for the woman by the Peruvian Consulate in Tokyo, Kotaro Tanaka, says that he is looking into the case going to Juvenile Court in Kanazawa so the mother can get medical bills paid and also damages for the boy's physical, mental, and emotional anguish.  Mr. Tanaka says that his office can make no other statements as the case is being reviewed by Kanazawa courts.  Tanaka and the boy's mother want attempted murder charges filed against the attackers and their parents charged with obstructing justice for making a financial offer to quiet the case.  They also want Kanazawa prefecture and city government officials to investigate methods police use.

The boy is currently being treated by a psychologist in Kanagawa and also by a therapist specializing with victims of bullying.  The Peruvian Consulate says the case became known after the mother called the Peruvian Consulate after reading a Peruvian website reporting on the rape victim in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka.

The Peruvian Consul General, Mr. Cardenas, comments, "Foreigners in Japan need to be made aware of what their rights are by the Japanese government.  There are far too many cases of violence against foreigners at the moment."  The mother reports she is afraid of reprisals from the parents of the attackers after she received legal representation.  A note in Japanese was taped to the door of her home stating that "If you do not like your treatment go back to Peru and take all the other trash with you."  Parents of the attackers deny writing the note.  Police in Kanazawa say they are still investigating and the case is ongoing.

We will update as more information comes forth.  Rev. Daniel Rea, Editor Japan Times Herald

Update on Peruvian Rape Victim

Hat tip to Japan Times Herald

Peruvian Consul General Julio Cardenas reports that the 13 year old girl and her mother are doing well in Tokyo.  Currently they are staying in a home provided by the Consul.  The girl has been able to see a priest and a psychologist in Tokyo.  The mother has been able to get some medical attention for hypertension.

The Consul has been working with the Shizuoka police and with the school board in Fujinomiya.  The Consul could not comment on the investigation as it is ongoing.  An employee at the consulate who asked to remain anonymous noted on the telephone that, "Right now we are doing all we can to care for the needs of the family.  The mother has her younger son in Tokyo as well.  Our main concern is to provide for their well being."

The consulate has retained legal representation with Kotaro Tanaka.  The law firm would only confirm they are conducting legal representation and cooperating with the Consul and with authorities.

Questions still remain as to why the Japanese media has ignored this story.  The Japan Times Herald has sent this story to all major news outlets, including English language, and has received no reply as of the posting of this update.

By Rev. Daniel Rea, Managing Editor, Japan Times Herald

April 26 to May 1, 2014

"Resurrected" Tojo Causes Stir At LDP Rally

A picture has emerged on social media purporting to show a man dressed as General Hideki Tojo, the prime minister who ordered the attack on Pearl Harbor, saluting at a weekend conference, sparking outrage online.
General Tojo was among those executed for war crimes and later honored at the Yasukuni shrine.
The picture that surfaced on Twitter appeared to show a man dressed in period military garb saluting while standing on a campaign car for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)—sparking a backlash online.
“Does this mean the LDP tolerates this?” @hatsunoji wrote.
Said online user @okchibita: “This is not even a bad joke. I cannot believe this was done by the ruling party.”
The picture was believed to have been taken at a weekend conference organized by an Internet broadcaster, which Abe had briefly attended earlier in the day.
The huge two-day event, attended by more than 120,000 people, had dozens of booths sponsored by a wide variety of organisations including political parties, gaming firms and the country’s sumo association.
An LDP spokesman said he was unaware that the unidentified man was dressed to appear like Japan’s wartime leader.
“If we had known that he meant to be dressed up like Tojo, we would have had second thoughts about letting him get up there,” he told AFP.
A person claiming to be the man in the photo apologized on Twitter Monday and claimed he was simply dressed as a military policeman.
“There was the campaign car which people were allowed to climb on,” wrote the person, identified as @vice0079. “I was guided by LDP staff.”
(c) 2014 AFP

Residents of Fukushima Fear Return

Whenever Kazuhiro Onuki goes home, to his real home that is, the 66-year-old former librarian dons protective gear from head to toe and hangs a dosimeter around his neck.
Grass grows wild in the backyard. The ceiling leaks. Thieves have ransacked the shelves, leaving papers and clothing all over the floor so there is barely room to walk. Mouse dung is scattered like raisins. There is no running water or electricity.
Above all, radiation is everywhere.
It’s difficult to imagine ever living again in Tomioka, a ghost town about 10 kilometers from the former Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant. And yet more than three years after meltdowns at the plant forced this community of 16,000 people to flee, Onuki can’t quite make the psychological break to start anew.
His family lived here for four generations. Every time he goes back, he is overcome by emotion. Especially during that brief time in the spring when the cherry blossoms bloom.
“They flower as though nothing has happened,” he said. “They are weeping because all the people have left.”
The Japanese government is pushing ahead with efforts to decontaminate and reopen as much of a 20-kilometer no-go zone around the plant as it can. Authorities declared a tiny corner of the zone safe for living as of April 1, and hope to lift evacuation orders in more areas in the coming months and years.
Former residents have mixed feelings. In their hearts, many want their old lives back. But distrust about the decontamination program runs deep. Will it really be safe? Others among the more than 100,000 displaced have established new lives elsewhere, in the years since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami sent three of Fukushima’s reactors into meltdown.
If the evacuation order is lifted for their area, they will lose a monthly stipend of 100,000 yen they receive from Tokyo Electric Power Co, the owner of the Fukushima plant.
A survey last year found that 16% of Tomioka residents wanted to return, 40% had decided never to return, and 43% were undecided. Two-thirds said they were working before the disaster, but only one-third had jobs at the time of the survey, underlining the challenges to starting over.
Former resident Shigetoshi Suzuki, a friend of Onuki, is outraged the government would even ask such a question: Do you want to go back?
Of course, we all want to return, he said. People like him were effectively forced into retirement, the 65-year-old land surveyor said. If he hadn’t evacuated to a Tokyo suburb with his wife, he would have continued working for his longtime clients.
“It is a ridiculous question,” Suzuki said. “We could have led normal lives. What we have lost can’t be measured in money.”
In protest, he has refused to sign the forms that would allow his property to undergo decontamination.
The government has divided the no-go zone into three areas by radiation level.
The worst areas are marked in pink on official maps and classified as “difficult to return.” They are still enclosed by a barricade.
Yellow designates a “restricted” area, limiting visits to a few hours. No overnight stays are allowed.
The green zones are “in preparations to lift evacuation orders.” They must be decontaminated, which includes scrubbing building surfaces and scraping off the top layer of soil and is being carried out throughout the zones.
Tomioka has all three zones within its boundaries.
The green zones are those where authorities have confirmed radiation exposure can be brought below 20 millisieverts a year.
The long-term goal is to bring annual exposure down to 1 millisievert, or the equivalent of 10 chest X-rays, which was considered the safe level before the disaster, but the government is lifting evacuation orders at higher levels. It says it will monitor the health and exposure of people who move back to such areas.
In the yellow restricted zone, where Sukuki’s and Onuki’s homes lie, a visitor exceeds 1 millisievert in a matter of a few hours.
During a recent visit, Onuki and his wife Michiko walked beneath the pink petals floating from a tunnel of cherry trees, previously a local tourist attraction.
The streets were abandoned, except for a car passing through now and then. The neighborhood was eerily quiet except for the chirping of the nightingales.
“The prime minister says the accident is under control, but we feel the thing could explode the next minute,” said Michiko Onuki, who ran a ceramic and craft shop out of their Tomioka home. “We would have to live in fear of radiation. This town is dead.”
Both wore oversized white astronaut-like gear, which doesn’t keep out radioactive rays out but helps prevent radioactive material from being brought back, outside the no-go zone. Filtered masks covered half their faces. They discarded the gear when they left, so they wouldn’t bring any radiation back to their Tokyo apartment, which they share with an adult son and daughter.
Junji Oshida, 43, whose family ran an upscale restaurant in Tomioka that specialized in eel, was at first devastated that he lost the traditional sauce for the eel that had been passed down over generations.
He has since opened a new restaurant just outside the zone that caters to nuclear cleanup workers. He recreated the sauce and serves pork, which is cheaper than eel. He lives apart from his wife and sons, who are in a Tokyo suburb.
“There is no sense in looking back,” Oshida said, still wearing the eel restaurant’s emblem on his shirt.
Older residents can’t give up so easily, even those who will never be able to return — like Tomioka city assemblyman Seijun Ando, whose home lies in the most irradiated, pink zone.
Ando, 59, said that dividing Tomioka by radiation levels has pitted one group of residents against another, feeding resentment among some. One idea he has is to bring residents from various towns in the no-go zone together to start a new community in another, less radiated part of Fukushima — a place he described as “for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
“I can survive anywhere, although I had a plan for my life that was destroyed from its very roots,” said Ando, tears welling up in his eyes. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suffering. I’m just worried for Tomioka.”
TEPCO Reports Huge Annual Profit
The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said Wednesday it booked a 438.65 billion yen annual net profit owing to an electricity rate hike and a massive government bailout following the 2011 disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) was teetering on the brink as cleanup and compensation costs stoked huge losses and threatened to collapse the sprawling utility until Tokyo stepped in with a rescue package.

The company at the center of the worst nuclear accident in a generation said it earned 438.65 billion yen in the fiscal year to March, compared with a net loss of 685.3 billion yen in the same period a year earlier.

Sales rose 11% to 6.63 trillion yen, it said.

The company’s results got a boost from a rate hike, and helped offset a decline in the amount of electricity TEPCO sold owing to warmer-than-usual winter weather, it said.

It also booked a special gain of 1.8 trillion yen based on funds the company received from a government-backed bailout fund as well as asset sales.

But it added that rising fossil fuel costs after Japan switched off its nuclear reactors were pressuring its bottom line.

“The business environment that surrounds us remains very serious,” TEPCO President Naomi Hirose told a news conference.

The Fukushima plant’s cooling systems were swamped by the 2011 tsunami, sparking reactor meltdowns and radiation leaks.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from around the plant with decommissioning of the site expected to take decades.

© 2014 AFP

Russia Promises Revenge After Japan Rejects 23 Visas For Russians

Moscow on Tuesday vowed to hit back at Japan over its decision to deny visas to 23 Russian nationals as part of additional sanctions linked to the crisis in Ukraine.
The Russian foreign ministry said that Tokyo’s decision was “met with disappointment in Moscow, and of course will not be left without a response”.
The Japanese foreign ministry said Tuesday that the Russian nationals on its list—whom it did not identify but who were reported by Tokyo media to include some government officials—were suspected of “infringing the unity of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territory”.
“Japan calls on all parties to act carefully with self-restraint and responsibility,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in a statement. “We sincerely hope that the Ukraine situation will be normalised through diplomatic dialogue.”
Tokyo’s announcement came after the United States and Europe expanded their own lists of punitive measures against Russian officials and Kremlin-linked firms.
The Russian foreign ministry described Tokyo’s decision as “a clumsy step taken under the influence of foreign pressure”.
“Attempts by Japan to put pressure on Russia will in no way help de-escalate tensions around Ukraine,” the Russian statement said.
Relations between Moscow and Tokyo have been strained for decades because of the status of four Pacific islands that are known as the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan.
The dispute has hurt the two sides’ trade relations and prevented the signature of a peace treaty formally ending hostilities dating back to World War II.
(c) 2014 AFP