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Japan to step up sanctions against Russia following Malaysian airliner disaster

FILE - In this July 22, 2014 file photo, a pro-Russian rebel touches the MH17 wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine. Japan's top government spokesman said Monday, July 28 that the country is stepping up sanctions against Russia over the unrest in Ukraine. The sanctions include the freezing of assets held in Japan by individuals and groups supporting the separation of Crimea from Ukraine, as well as a ban on Crimean imports, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. The move follows the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

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FILE - In this July 22, 2014 file photo, a pro-Russian rebel touches the MH17 wreckage at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine. Japan's top government spokesman said Monday, July 28 that the country is stepping up sanctions against Russia over the unrest in Ukraine. The sanctions include the freezing of assets held in Japan by individuals and groups supporting the separation of Crimea from Ukraine, as well as a ban on Crimean imports, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. The move follows the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

TOKYO - Japan is stepping up sanctions against Russia over the unrest in Ukraine.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the sanctions include the freezing of assets held in Japan by individuals and groups supporting the separation of Crimea from Ukraine, and a ban on Crimean imports. He said the steps are in line with measures taken by European Union and Group of Seven nations.

The move follows the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The U.S. and Ukraine accuse pro-Russia rebels of firing a missile that brought the plane down, killing all 298 people on board.

The U.S. and EU have debated imposing tougher sanctions against Moscow because of its support for the rebels.

Japan has been modest on sanctions against Russia, previously imposing only travel bans on 23 people.

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