Japan to revoke Russia's most-favoured nation trade status - PM Kishida

A man in a bicycle drives past containers at an industrial port in Tokyo, Japan, May 22, 2019.    REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A man in a bicycle drives past containers at an industrial port in Tokyo, Japan, May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Kantaro Komiya and Leika Kihara

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan will revoke Russia's most-favoured nation trade status as part of further sanctions against Moscow following the invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday.

Tokyo will also ramp up sanctions by expanding the scope of asset freezes against Russian elites and banning imports of certain products from the country, Kishida said.

"Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a historic atrocity," Kishida told a news conference. "We're taking necessary steps including sanctions to apply further pressure on Russia."

The moves are in line with an announcement on Friday by the United States and its allies to escalate their economic pressure on Russia, which amount to a fourth set of sanctions against the country over the Feb. 24 invasion.

Russia calls its action in Ukraine a "special operation" to disarm and "denazify" its neighbour.

Japan will also coordinate with other Group of Seven nations to prevent Russia from tapping loans from the International Monetary Fund and other global lenders, Kishida said.

He did not clarify which goods will see tariffs raised from the revocation of the most-favoured status.

But the Mainichi newspaper reported the move would lead to higher tariffs for certain seafood products such as sea urchins and crab imported from Russia.

In 2021, Russia accounted for 81% of sea urchins and 47.6% of crab imported by Japan, according to government data.

Japan has already slapped sanctions on Russia-bound exports of chips and high-tech equipment, as well as on dozens of Russian and Belarusian officials, business executives and banks by freezing their assets.

(Reporting by Kantaro Komiya and Leika Kihara; Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, Kentaro Sugiyama, Yoshifumi Takemoto and David Dolan; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Lincoln Feast and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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