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June 23, 2017

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Japan announces more sanctions over Ukraine

TOKYO--Japan on Monday announced it would impose additional sanctions against those responsible for the "annexation of Crimea and destabilization of eastern Ukraine," without offering further details.

The moves — which include freezing assets and halting imports from crisis-wracked Crimea — come about two months after Moscow vowed to hit back at Japan over its decision to deny visas to 23 Russian nationals.

Tokyo would also cooperate with the European Union on a plan with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to freeze funding for new projects in Russia, said Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

The names of individuals and institutions targeted by Tokyo's fresh sanctions would be announced after the cabinet approves the measures, he added.

"Japan sincerely hopes that the situation in Ukraine will soon be normalized through diplomatic dialogue," said Suga, the Japanese government's top spokesman.

"Japan will continue to strongly ask that Russia use its influence on the military and insurgents so that they would cooperate with the international investigation into the shooting of the Malaysia Airlines plane."

Tokyo has sided with its Western allies in the increasingly tense affair which has seen the United States and the EU impose much harsher measures against Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.

Because of heavy shelling in the area, observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have been unable to access the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 came down on July 17, killing 298 people.

Moscow has accused the U.S. of supporting Kiev against separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine and of "sharing the responsibility of spilt blood" in the conflict.

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