TOKYO: A total of eight Russian diplomats and trade officials left Japan on Wednesday, after the Japanese government decided earlier this month to expel them amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
At a press conference on the day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the government has confirmed the departure of the Russian officials, believed to include those linked to Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, and the Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, which is one of the successors of the Soviet-era KGB.
A Russian aircraft carrying the officials took off from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport in the afternoon.
On April 8, Tokyo demanded the Russian side have the officials leave Japan, while condemning Russia for civilian killings near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
It is unusual for Japan to expel multiple foreign diplomats at once. In 2012, Syria’s ambassador to Japan was expelled over the persecution of anti-government rebels by the administration of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Moscow has suggested that it will take retaliatory measures, possibly expelling Japanese embassy officials.
“We will continue to put our full efforts into protecting Japanese nationals and the activities of Japanese corporations,” Matsuno said at the press conference.