Japan, EU want more sanctions on Russia, collaboration in Indo-Pacific

Japan, EU want more sanctions on Russia, collaboration in Indo-Pacific

The Associated Press

Leaders of Japan and the European Union recently agreed to step up sanctions against Russia and raised concern about the Russia-Ukraine war’s effect in the Indo-Pacific.

The leaders seek to strengthen their partnership and increase engagement in face of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) growing assertiveness.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who held talks in Tokyo with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel in May 2022, said Japan supports tough sanctions against Russia and ample support for Ukraine because the war “shakes the foundation of the world order not only in Europe but also in Asia.”

“Security in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific are inseparable,” Kishida said. (Pictured: From left, European Council President Charles Michel, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen prior to their talks in Tokyo.)

The EU leaders said they want a greater role in the region and agreed to bolster cooperation in areas including digital transformation, renewable energy and climate.

“The Indo-Pacific is a thriving region. It is also a theater of tensions. We want to take more responsibility in a region that is so vital to our prosperity,” von der Leyen said.

Von der Leyen said Russia’s “barbaric war” against Ukraine has raised concerns about China’s growing influence and ambitions.

Michel said cooperation on Ukraine is critical in Europe and important in the Indo-Pacific.

“We believe that China must stand up to defend the multilateral system that it benefited from in developing its country,” he said, noting the EU wants to “deepen our cooperation on a more assertive China.”

Japanese Foreign Ministry officials said the EU’s move reflects a major shift away from the PRC amid growing concerns over Beijing’s human rights issues and other problems in the region.

Japan quickly joined other countries in imposing sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. There is growing fear in Tokyo that the war may embolden the PRC to take more assertive actions in the East and South China seas, where Beijing’s territorial claims have overlapped with those of its smaller neighbors.

Japan has frozen the assets of Russian leaders, including President Vladimir Putin, and government officials and billionaires close to him as well as key banks. It has also restricted trade and announced a decision to phase out imports of Russian coal and crude oil.