TOKYO — Japan is expelling eight Russian diplomats and trade officials and will phase out imports of Russian coal and oil.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday that Moscow must be held accountable for “war crimes” in Ukraine and pointed to a “critical moment” now in efforts to get Russia's government to end its invasion of Ukraine.
He said Japan will also ban imports of Russian lumber, vodka and other goods, and will prohibit new Japanese investment in Russia. It will also step up sanctions against Russian banks and freeze assets of about 400 more individuals and groups.
Reduction of Russian fossil fuel imports is a difficult choice for resource-poor Japan, and could mean a shift for its energy policy toward more renewables and nuclear power. Russia accounts for about 11% of Japanese coal imports.
Earlier Friday, Japan's Foreign Ministry announced it was expelling eight Russian diplomats and trade officials, joining similar moves in European countries.