Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi expressed concerns about human rights abuses against Russian nationals in Japan, and made reference to hate speech, harassment and other discriminatory acts that have occurred in the country since Moscow invaded Ukraine in late February.
"I would like to reiterate a call on the public not to ostracize or defame Russians just because they are Russians," Hayashi said at a news conference.
Hayashi said even some Russian nationals in Japan are opposed to the aggression and condemned the aggression committed in Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin's administration.
The minister s remarks came just after East Japan Railway Co. apologized for temporarily covering with paper a wayfinding sign written in Russian at a Tokyo train station near the Russian Embassy in Japan, after receiving criticism that it could be considered discriminatory.
In late February, an inn in Shiga Prefecture said it would stop accepting guests from Russia and Belarus in protest against Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the support that Moscow has received from Belarus, before being urged by local authorities to remove the statement.
Earlier Tuesday, members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party discussed the issue of human rights abuses against Russians at a party meeting.
Masahisa Sato, chief of the LDP Foreign Affairs Division, told reporters afterward that the government should take countermeasures.
Sato said at the outset of the meeting that the Russian government and Russian people in Japan must not be equated. Sato said he has heard that a Russian restaurant was abused on social media.
There were 9,000 Russians living in the country as of June 2021, according to the Immigration Services Agency.