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Editorial: G-7 must unite to maintain pressure on Russia over Ukraine invasion

The Group of Seven (G-7) major industrial nations have set out energy sanctions against Russia that include banning and phasing out coal imports from the country. The move comes in response to the discovery of a large number of bodies of civilians on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, and the additional sanctions are only natural.

    At a news conference, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the actions of Russian military forces in Ukraine as "unforgivable war crimes," and said that Japan would ban Russian coal imports and take steps to reduce its dependence on Russia for energy, including oil. He also announced the expulsion of eight Russians including diplomats from Japan.

    Japan and Western countries need to remain coordinated and continue to apply pressure on Russia.

    It has been pointed out that the actions of Russia's armed forces violate international humanitarian laws, including the Geneva Conventions providing for the protection of civilians in wartime.

    Suspicions of massacres in the city of Bucha on the outskirts of the capital and in the Borodyanka settlement have grown stronger with the discovery of bodies including people killed with their hands tied behind their backs. Russia denies the allegations, claiming fabrications, but no grounds for its claim can be found.

    In a joint statement the G-7 leaders condemned the "appalling atrocities" by Russian armed forces, and expressed their full support for an investigation by the international criminal court over war crimes and violations of international humanitarian laws.

    Europe had been hesitant to impose sanctions in the energy sector, but the atrocious state of affairs in Ukraine promoted it to go ahead with a ban on coal imports from Russia. The G-7 leaders said they would also accelerate work to reduce their dependency on Russian oil. The leaders additionally confirmed a ban on new investment in key sectors of the Russian economy, and said they would continue to disconnect Russian banks from the global financial system.

    When Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the economic sanctions that Japan imposed were more lenient than those imposed by Western countries, out of consideration for peace treaty negotiations, which extended to the Russian-held Northern Territories claimed by Japan, and Tokyo was criticized as a result.

    This time, Japan is keeping in step with the West by freezing the assets of Russian government officials and others, including President Vladimir Putin himself, and revoking Russia's most favored nation status.

    It is predicted that the Russian invasion of Ukraine will become prolonged, and it is possible that in the future, G-7 countries may be pressured to further de-Russianize their economies.

    Japan and other countries in Europe rely on Russia for crude oil and natural gas supplies. This is an issue that affects not only the industrial sector, but which is directly linked to people's lives. The Kishida administration needs to collaborate with the West and respond to the issue while gaining understanding from the public.

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