May 13, 2022
BRUSSELS – The European Union will expand cooperation with Japan in areas including sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told The Yomiuri Shimbun ahead of her visit to Japan.
Von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel held talks with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday.
Sanctions imposed by the EU, Japan, the United States and other like-minded countries “deplete the resources used by [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to fund his war,” von der Leyen said in a written response to interview questions. “We must … continue to ensure that they are implemented until Putin puts an end to this brutal act.”
The EU and its partners have removed Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments network, among other sanctions imposed since Moscow invaded Ukraine in late February.
Referring to EU relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, von der Leyen said Putin had “failed miserably to sow division within the transatlantic partnership”.
The President of the European Commission thanked Japan for diverting LNG imports to European countries that are heavily dependent on energy sources from Russia. “This crisis has shown that we can rely on each other,” she said, referring to the strengthened EU-Japan relationship.
Referring to the Indo-Pacific region, von der Leyen expressed willingness to step up cooperation with Japan in areas such as maritime and cyber security, with China in mind.
“The EU wants to play a more active role in the Indo-Pacific. Because we want to take on more responsibility in a region that is so important to our prosperity,” she said.