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Japan PM Kishida pledges further cooperation with EU on Russia

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said his country will boost cooperation with the European Union on Russia [File: Reuters]

Japan and the European Union will ramp up cooperation in punishing Russia over its war in Ukraine, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday.

In a joint news conference held in Tokyo, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and Kishida said they would continue to condemn Russia and discuss how to maximise cooperation in areas including energy, supplies of which have come under strain due to the war and sanctions against Moscow.

“We welcome the increasingly strong stance Japan is taking against Russia,” von der Leyen said at the start of the meeting.

Earlier this week, Japan announced it would follow its Group of Seven partners in halting the use of Russian oil, with imports to be phased out over time to minimise adverse effects on people’s livelihoods and businesses. Japan is heavily dependent on energy imports, including from Russia, which last year supplied about four per cent of its crude oil and nine per cent of its gas.

Tokyo, a key US ally, has followed Western countries in rolling out a raft of punitive measures against Russia, including sanctions targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, Russia’s central bank and executives of companies with close ties to the Kremlin.

Top Japanese brands including Toyota, Honda, Nintendo and Sony have also suspended business in Russia, citing logistics or safety concerns.

Japan has adopted a tougher line against Russia than its regional peers, most of which have declined to condemn Moscow over the conflict.

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