Japan's lower house on Thursday passed bills that will strip Russia of its "most-favored nation" trade status and prevent it from transacting in cryptocurrencies, clearing the way for the legislative revisions for tougher sanctions by the end of the current parliamentary session in June.
The bill to revise a customs law, approved by a majority vote in the House of Representatives, will raise the tariff rates on imports from Russia to the levels applied before the preferential treatment.
For example, the tariff on salmon imports will rise from the current 3.5 percent to 5 percent, while that on crabs will be lifted to 6 percent from 4 percent. Crude oil and liquefied natural gas will not be affected as they were not tariffed even before the favorable treatment.
As Japan is ramping up its sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine in step with other Group of Seven nations, the government is also considering ordinances that stipulate that all imports from the country will be subject to the higher duties until the end of March next year.
The revised foreign exchange law requires cryptocurrency exchanges to check whether recipients of transactions are subject to financial sanctions.
The revision is aimed at preventing cryptocurrencies from being a loophole to sidestep sanctions such as the exclusion of Russia from a key international payment network known as SWIFT.
The bills will likely be approved by the House of Councillors and enacted by June 15 when the ordinary parliamentary session closes.
The government said last week that Japan will phase out coal imports from Russia in a major shift toward cutting its energy reliance on the country, as the war in Ukraine drags on with an increasing number of civilian victims reported.
Japan has also announced an asset freeze against Sberbank, Russia's biggest bank, as well as a ban on new investment in the country.
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