Japan joins sanctions on Russian central bank, says 'Japan is with Ukraine'

FILE PHOTO: Japan's vice minister of finance for international affairs, Masato Kanda, poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters at the Finance Ministry in Tokyo, Japan January 31, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato

By Tetsushi Kajimoto and Kantaro Komiya

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan will join the international sanctions on Russia's central bank by limiting transactions with it, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Monday, after telling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that Japan would stand by its side.

Speaking to reporters after telephone talks with Zelenskiy, Kishida also said Japan would impose sanctions on Belarusian organisations and individuals including President Alexander Lukashenko, and limit exports there given the country's "evident involvement in the invasion" of Ukraine.

"I told (President Zelenskiy) that Japan is with Ukraine... and offered firm support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Kishida said.

Japan joins the West in seeking to restrict the Russian central bank's ability to deploy $640 billion of forex and gold reserves, and cut Russia's major banks off the SWIFT financial network, making it hard for lenders and companies to make and receive payments.

Earlier, Japan's top currency diplomat, Masato Kanda, said the government was working closely with other G7 nations to ensure effective economic sanctions against Russia and its central bank.

He spoke after a meeting with counterparts at the Bank of Japan and the Financial Services Agency to discuss the fallout from the Ukraine crisis - the first such gathering in roughly a year.

Japanese shares fell and the yen drew demand as a safe haven currency on Monday, after Western nations imposed the new sanctions on Russia.

"Market stability is extremely important," said Kanda, Japan's vice finance minister for international affairs, adding the government was closely watching market developments.

The rouble plunged nearly 30% to an all-time low versus the dollar on Monday. The stock market and derivatives market remained closed.

Kishida said Japan, which has pledged $100 million in emergency humanitarian aid to Ukraine, would also allow Japan-based Ukrainians to extend their stay amid the conflict.

(Reporting by Takaya Yamaguchi and Tetsushi Kajimoto, writing by Leika Kihara; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim, Muralikumar Anantharaman and Chizu Nomiyama)

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