Japan to unveil further sanctions on Russia after coordinating with G7, PM says

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a news conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan October 14, 2021. Eugene Hoshiko/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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TOKYO, April 7 (Reuters) - Japan will unveil further sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine as early as Friday after coordinating with Group of Seven (G7) allies on further punitive steps, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday.

He also said Japan would release a record amount of oil reserves to help curb prices in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

Following Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Japan has stepped up sanctions ranging from removing Moscow from international payment network called SWIFT, to freezing central bank assets.

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It also froze assets of Russian officials, oligarchs, banks and other institutions, keeping in step with G7 economies, and banned high-tech exports to Russia.

"(Russia's) unforgivable acts have come into light one after another," Kishida told reporters. "We must not forgive its invasion and war crimes. We will demonstrate our will with severe action."

Moscow has denied targeting civilians and says images of bodies in Bucha - a town northeast of Kyiv recaptured from the Russian military - were staged to justify more sanctions against Moscow and derail peace talks.

Japan would secure seats on direct flights to Poland every week to help smooth evacuation of Ukrainians fleeing their country, Kishida said.

He said Japan will release 15 million barrels of oil from state and private reserves as part of a second round of the coordinated release led by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

IEA states agreed to tap 60 million barrels of oil from storage, the director of the group said on Wednesday, on top of a 180 million-barrel release announced by Washington last week. read more

The United States announced new measures including sanctions on President Vladimir Putin's two adult daughters and a major bank. However, the European Union failed to approve a new round of sanctions including on Russian coal on Wednesday.

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Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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