According to the Ministry of Finance in Tokyo, the volume of Japanese exports to Russia saw a significant increase of 25% in July compared to the previous year, reaching 50.94 billion yen ($348 million). This growth can be attributed to various sectors, with medical products experiencing the most remarkable surge of 1,123% compared to July 2022. Additionally, exports of rubber and paper products saw significant increases of 248% and 45% respectively. However, the export of plastics and steel declined by 35% and 94% respectively.
In terms of imports, Japan witnessed a staggering increase of 5,679% in Russian grain imports in July compared to the same period last year. Conversely, imports of fish and fish products experienced a decline of 35.3%, while purchases of vegetables dropped by 30%.
Despite the overall growth in Japanese exports to Russia, there was a notable decrease in Japan’s imports from Russia, amounting to nearly 70%. This decline can be attributed to a significant decrease in Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal shipments, which account for approximately 60% of Russia’s total exports to Tokyo. Specifically, imports of Russian LNG decreased by 53.6% in July, while coal imports witnessed a decline of 72.9%. Deliveries of non-ferrous metals also experienced a substantial decrease of 69.5%.
The decline in imports follows Tokyo’s decision to tighten trade restrictions on Russia. Recently, the Japanese government expanded its sanctions against Russia, adding 758 new items to the list of prohibited goods for supply. This move is part of Japan’s participation in the US-led sanctions campaign against Russia, which was initiated in response to the conflict in Ukraine. These sanctions include asset freezes, export bans, and the revocation of Moscow’s ‘most-favored nation’ trade status. Additionally, Japan has blacklisted 80 Russian military-related companies and organizations, including those involved in heavy machinery production.
In response to Japan’s penalties, Moscow has expressed its discontent and is considering taking retaliatory measures. The Russian Foreign Ministry characterized Japan’s actions as “very negative,” while the Kremlin retaliated by blacklisting nearly 400 Japanese lawmakers and imposing entry bans on several senior officials, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, due to Japan’s “unfriendly, anti-Russian position.”
The recent developments in Japan-Russia trade relations reflect the ongoing tensions between the two countries. Tokyo’s expanded sanctions and Russia’s retaliatory measures further complicated the trade dynamic between the two nations. The impact of these measures on the economies of both countries remains to be seen.
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