Around 2,000 people including Ukrainian nationals living in Japan staged a rally on Saturday in front of the Shibuya crossing, a famed Tokyo landmark, protesting against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Protestors held Ukrainian flags and signs reading "Stop the war in Ukraine" and "Hands off Ukraine." Russians and Japanese nationals also joined the rally that was organized via social media, as fighting persists in the former Soviet republic after Russia launched a large-scale attack on Thursday and Ukrainian forces continue to fight back.
Iryna Kulbanska, who hails from the Luhansk oblast in eastern Ukraine, expressed concern over her parents who remain in the capital Kyiv and told her they have repeatedly heard explosions and gunfire.
"I feel anxious as I don't know what could happen next," she said.
Despite weeks of diplomatic efforts by major powers and their threat of imposing sanctions, Russia still went ahead to launch what Ukraine called "a full-scale invasion" on Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had authorized a "special military operation" in the Donbas area, which includes two separatist regions in parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Moscow formally recognized them as independent republics just ahead of its attack.
Maryna Artyushenko, who also joined the rally, said she is worried that the situation could worsen as the unfolding events in the crisis are changing day by day.
"I urge the Japanese government to implement sanctions that would have an immediate impact" on Russia, she said.
Joining the United States and other nations, as well as the European Union, in imposing sanctions on Russia, Japan also unveiled its own set of punitive measures.
On Friday, Japan laid out a set of tighter sanctions against Russia featuring a freeze on assets held by Russian banks and curbs on exports to military-linked groups in response to the invasion.
The new sanctions package also includes export controls on semiconductors and other high-tech products, as well as a suspension of visa issuance for certain Russian individuals and entities.
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