Japan to impose sanctions on Russia for Crimea move

TOKYO Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:14pm EDT

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will suspend talks on investment pact and relaxation of visa requirements as part of sanctions against Russia after Moscow recognized Crimea as a sovereign state, top government spokesman said on Tuesday.

"Japanese government does not recognize a referendum in Crimea," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, adding that the referendum had no legal force as it was in breach of Ukraine's constitution.

"The recognition of Crimean independence by Russia violates Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and is regrettable," he told a regular news conference.

The Crimean parliament on Monday formally asked that Russia "admit the Republic of Crimea as a new subject with the status of a republic.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will on Tuesday address a special joint session of Russia's State Duma, or parliament, which could take a decision on annexation of the majority ethnic-Russian region.

(Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski)

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