Japan warns against travel to Russia, raising advisory to second-highest level

Japan warns against travel to Russia, raising advisory to second-highest level

TOKYO (Agencies): Japan on Monday raised its travel alert for Russia to its second-highest level to warn against all trips there, as additional sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine have left far fewer flights available and have begun seriously disrupting the local economy and citizens’ lives.

The Foreign Ministry lifted its risk warning to Level 3 on its four-point scale, after European countries and the United States closed off their airspace to Russian flights while Russia shut its airspace in retaliation. The steps leave limited means to fly to and from the country.

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

The decisions by major credit card companies such as Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. to suspend their operations in Russia have “started to affect the lives of the citizens in the nation as well,” according to the ministry, urging against travel to Russia “regardless of purpose.”

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

Japan currently sets the daily cap on entrants from overseas at 5,000 as part of measures against the coronavirus. But Matsuno said the people returning from Russia will not be counted among the limited number of entrants.

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

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

For areas along Ukraine’s borders with Russia and Belarus, the ministry has hiked the advisory to the highest Level 4, which urges all Japanese nationals to evacuate and not to 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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