Kishida, Macron agree on need for powerful sanctions on Russia

The leaders of Japan and France agreed Tuesday to enforce "strong" sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and opposed Moscow's nuclear threat.
During roughly 25-minute phone talks, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and French President Emmanuel Macron shared the view that Russia's use of force to unilaterally change the status quo clearly violates international law and threatens the global order. They agreed to coordinate closely in their response to the crisis, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.
"I stressed (during the talks) that a globally united and resolute action is necessary to protect the foundation of the international order," Kishida told reporters at his office after the phone conversation.
The Russian aggression has triggered a chorus of criticism from countries that support Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Japan and France are among the Group of Seven nations imposing economic sanctions against Russia after Russian troops invaded Ukraine last week despite tenacious diplomatic efforts by the West to prevent such a scenario. Macron had sought to deter Russia by talking directly with President Vladimir Putin.
Japan has joined a coordinated attempt by the United States and other G7 members -- Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy plus the European Union -- to cut some Russian banks off the SWIFT international network. The punitive step will hamper Russian trade as SWIFT is critical infrastructure in transmitting financial information between banks when making or receiving payments.
Tensions have spiked since Putin put his nuclear forces on high alert amid uncertainty over any cease-fire as talks between Kyiv and Moscow continue.
Kishida has been pushing for the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons as prime minister of Japan, the only nation to have suffered atomic bombings, and as a lawmaker elected from Hiroshima.
"We should not allow any change to the status quo by force. We need to be mindful that this is a challenge faced by Europe and the broader international community including Asia," Kishida said.
The Ukrainian crisis has raised concerns about its ramifications for Asia where China's military build-up and assertive territorial claims have heightened regional tensions. As the G7 seeks to isolate Russia, how China will respond to the crisis has been in focus.
Kishida also spoke by phone with Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh of Laos to deepen cooperation toward achieving a "free and open" Indo-Pacific region.
During the 35-minute conversation, Kishida expressed hope that Laos and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will "clearly support" the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.
Japan has been deepening ties with 10-member ASEAN with some like Cambodia and Laos having close ties with China while Vietnam and the Philippines among others have territorial disputes in the South China Sea with Beijing.

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