Japanese embassy staff leave Ukraine as Russian attacks escalate


All staff at the Japanese embassy in Ukraine will temporarily leave the country, the government announced on Monday, citing security concerns as the Russian invasion intensifies.

Officials who originally worked in Kyiv will depart from Japan’s liaison office in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, according to the Foreign Ministry.

“The situation in Ukraine is becoming increasingly tense and the risk is also increasing significantly in Lviv,” the ministry said.

Japan will not close the liaison office near the border with Poland and will resume operations “once the situation calms down”, he added.

Until then, the ministry said it would support Japanese citizens living in Ukraine, including those trying to evacuate the country, mainly from the Japanese Embassy in Warsaw and its liaison office in the city of Rzeszow, in southeastern Poland.

The officials’ exit from Ukraine comes less than a week after Japan decided to temporarily close its embassy in Kyiv and transfer all of its operations to the office in Lviv.

All members of the Group of Seven major developed countries, except France and Italy, have already moved their embassies out of Ukraine, according to the ministry.

Also on Monday, Japan raised its travel alert for Russia to its second-highest level to warn against all travel there, as additional sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine left many fewer flights available and began to seriously disrupt the local economy and the lives of citizens. .

The Foreign Office raised its risk warning to Level 3 on its four-point scale, after European countries and the United States closed their airspace to Russian flights while Russia closed its airspace in retaliation. . The steps leave limited ways to enter and exit the country.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said there were around 2,400 Japanese nationals in Russia on Sunday, and the government urged them to consider leaving the country using commercial flights still available.

Decisions by major credit card companies such as Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. to suspend operations in Russia have “begun to affect the lives of citizens of the country as well”, according to the ministry, urging not to travel to Russia ” whatever the goal”.

“The impact of economic sanctions on people staying in Russia is expected to grow stronger and various tense situations will arise,” the ministry added.

Japan is currently setting the daily cap for foreign entrants at 5,000 as part of coronavirus measures. But Matsuno said people returning from Russia will not be counted among the limited number of participants.

Following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Western countries and Japan, among others, decided to impose sanctions on Moscow, such as the exclusion of several Russian banks from a known key international payment network under the name SWIFT to disrupt Russian trade and money transfers.

Last Thursday, Tokyo also raised its travel advisory for Belarus, which served as an entry point for Moscow forces attacking Ukraine, to Level 3.

For areas along Ukraine’s borders with Russia and Belarus, the ministry raised the advisory to the highest Level 4, which urges all Japanese nationals to evacuate and not travel there, citing “the possibility of military conflicts”.

The whole of Ukraine has already been under a Level 4 warning since mid-February, following Russia’s military buildup along its borders with the country ahead of its invasion.

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