Japan expels eight Russian diplomats, condemns situation in Ukraine

TOKYO, April 8 (Reuters) - Japan expelled eight Russian diplomats on Friday, in a rare move it said was in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine, including the killing of civilians.

The step comes after European Union nations, including France and Germany, said this week they would expel Russian diplomats. Russia denies targeting civilians in the conflict in Ukraine, where it says it has launched a "special operation". read more

Several trade officials were among the diplomats expelled by Japan, but not the Russian ambassador, Mikhail Galuzin, said foreign ministry officials, who declined to give further details.

Such expulsions, though infrequent, are not unheard of for Japan, however, having happened several times during the Soviet era, the officials said.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to announce additional sanctions on Russia at a news conference set for 6 p.m. (0900 GMT).

Earlier on Friday, the industry minister said Japan planned to reduce Russian coal imports gradually while seeking alternative suppliers in the wake of sanctions against Moscow. read more

Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Clarence Fernandez

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