ARTICLE | Japan’s sanctions policy vis-à-vis Russia: Implications for Western sanctions unity

28 September, 2018

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin shaking hands. Source: – APEC首脳会議出席等 -1日目-

The article was originally published by Sasakawa USA Forum Issue No. 15 by UDI Associate Maria Shagina.

Showing solidarity with G7 countries, Japan imposed sanctions on Russia, albeit reluctantly. The Ukraine crisis (Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of Eastern Ukraine) occurred amidst Japan’s efforts to reinvigorate Japan-Russia relations in hopes of resolving the territorial dispute. As a G7 member, Japan felt obliged to support the international community and to impose sanctions. However, the geopolitical dynamics in Asia-Pacific forced it to take a conciliatory approach towards Russia. Japan’s symbolic sanctions allowed the country to balance between the West and Russia in the short run, but they may be counterproductive for Japan’s territorial negotiations with Russia and the effectiveness of Western sanctions in the long run.

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About the Author

Maria Shagina is a JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow at Ritsumeikan University, Japan. Her main research interest is sanctions and energy relations in post-Soviet countries. She was a visiting fellow at the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies, University of Birmingham and is currently affiliated with the Geneva International Sanctions Network. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Lucerne, Switzerland.

About the Sasakawa USA Forum

This paper serves as Issue No. 15 of the Sasakawa USA Forum, a platform for research and analysis related to Japan and U.S.-Japan relations in a bilateral, regional, and global context. In order to gain a more comprehensive view of U.S.-Japan relations, the Sasakawa USA Forum publishes research from experts outside of our organization. Click here for details on how to submit research for consideration.