Japan on Tuesday slapped new sanctions on Russia over its backing of separatist insurgents in eastern Ukraine, adding 40 individuals and two Crimean companies to its blacklist, news reports said.
The sanctions went into force immediately after they were approved by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet on Tuesday morning, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.
Russia's Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday that meetings between Russian and Japanese deputy foreign ministers planned for the end of August would be "inappropriate" given the sanctions, and have hence been postponed.
Citing information from Japan's Foreign Ministry, ITAR-Tass reported that state Crimean energy firm Chernomorneftegaz and the company Feodosiya have now been sanctioned, along with ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov and other Crimean officials.
Separatist military commander Igor Strelkov and Alexander Borodai, prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine, were also sanctioned along with other individuals deemed "involved in the destabilization of the situation in Ukraine and Russia's annexation of Crimea."
Japan hit 23 individuals with visa bans and suspended bilateral talks with Russia in April, but has since been moderate in its response to Russia's policy in Ukraine while the United States and European Union continued to escalate sanctions.
Tokyo announced intentions to expand its sanctions list last week after the European Union committed to its harshest measures against Russia yet, blocking five major Russian state banks from accessing long-term debt in European markets and banning EU exports of military products, dual-use technology and equipment for use in Arctic oil exploration and shale oil projects in Russia.
Hearing news of Japan's plans, Russia's Foreign Ministry said previously that new sanctions would "inevitably threaten and set back a whole range of bilateral relations."