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Japan urges Russia not to annex Crimea

Published on Mar 17, 2014 12:05 PM

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan on Monday said it would "strongly urge" Russia not to annex Crimea, joining a chorus of criticism over a weekend referendum by the region of Ukraine as Washington hinted at fresh sanctions against Moscow.

With more than half the ballots counted, preliminary results showed 95.5 percent of voters were in favour of leaving Ukraine and rejoining former political master Russia.

The vote would mark the most radical redrawing of the map of Europe since Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia, and follows the ouster of Ukraine's pro-Moscow leader.

"Our country does not approve the result" of the referendum, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese government's top spokesman, told a regular news conference.

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