Japan to weigh SWIFT retaliation while monitoring markets

Japan said it was weighing its response to global moves to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine by further isolating the country from international banking transactions.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi was referring to a decision by the European Commission and the Group of Seven Nations to remove some Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system.

“Ukraine has formally requested Japan to take a similar step,” Hayashi said Feb. 27 during a news program carried by public broadcaster Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK). “Japan will provide a response while closely monitoring the effects on financial markets.”

The European Commission, along with the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Italy, announced the punitive economic measure in a February 26 joint statement.

SWIFT, which stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is used by more than 11,000 financial institutions worldwide. Thanks to SWIFT, banks and financial institutions alert each other to transactions.

On February 27, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Japan Sergiy Korsunsky expressed his country’s sincere hopes on his Twitter account that Tokyo will follow the steps to be taken by the European Union and G-7 countries.

During the broadcast, Hayashi stressed the importance for Japan to provide a coordinated response with the international community to the Russian invasion.

He took note of the views expressed by some experts that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to use military force against Ukraine could prove to be a turning point for the world in the long run.

“It is crucial for Japan to work with the global community to make strenuous efforts to deter a similar situation in Asia in the future,” he added.

His comment was widely interpreted as referring to China’s maritime behavior around the Taiwan Strait and elsewhere in the region.