Japan is planning to ban exports of luxury cars to Russia as early as next week as part of its expanded sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, government officials said Friday.
Japan has been stepping up pressure against Russia with the United States and European countries as the war in Ukraine drags on despite a global outcry.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a Group of Seven industrialized nations' meeting on Thursday that more Russian individuals and entities will be added to its sanctions list and that exports of luxury goods will be banned.
The planned export ban is also expected to cover jewelry and artworks, but details of the measure will be decided by considering steps taken by the United States and members of the European Union, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Japan's fresh export ban is aimed at adding pressure on oligarchs who have been supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin financially.
Cars make up a large portion of Russia-bound shipments from Japan, which totaled 627.8 billion yen ($5.2 billion) in 2020, according to government data.
Of the total, autos such as passenger cars, buses and trucks accounted for around 42 percent, or 263.2 billion yen. Around 190,000 passenger cars, both new and second-hand, were exported to Russia, and the envisaged ban may cover used cars.
"We will examine which items should be targeted by the ban while minimizing the negative impact on Japanese companies' earnings," a government official said.
Japan imposed a similar ban on luxury goods exports to North Korea in 2006 after Pyongyang announced it conducted a nuclear test. Japan has since totally banned imports from and exports to the country.
Russia's aggression against Ukraine has already been met with a slew of sanctions, including freezing the Russian central bank's assets, banning key Russian financial institutions from a major international payment system, and imposing export bans and controls.
Joining the United States and European countries, Japan also decided to strip Russia of its "most favored nation" status, which has given Moscow the best possible trade terms on key products under World Trade Organization rules.
In his virtual address to Japanese lawmakers, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday asked Japan to ramp up sanctions, specifically calling for a ban on trade with Russia to stop what he described as the "tsunami" of invasion.
Kishida vowed to consider additional punitive measures against Russia and support conflict-hit Ukraine after listening to Zelenskyy's speech.
Japan's hardening of its stance on Russia since its military attack on Ukraine begun on Feb. 24 was followed by Moscow's abrupt announcement to suspend bilateral negotiations with Japan toward a post-World War II peace treaty.
A long-standing territorial dispute over islets off Hokkaido in northern Japan has hampered progress in peace treaty talks.
Tokyo maintains that the islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia, were illegally seized by the former Soviet Union while Moscow claims they obtained them legally as a consequence of World War II.