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G7 justice chiefs reaffirm support for Russian war crimes probe

Group of Seven justice ministers on Friday reaffirmed their commitment to cooperating to support the investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Russia amid its ongoing war against Ukraine.

In a communique adopted at their gathering in Tokyo, the G7 justice chiefs also agreed to keep Russian assets frozen abroad until it compensates Kyiv for its losses due to the invasion while vowing to back Ukraine's reconstruction and anti-corruption reform efforts.

The other pledges made at the meeting included continuing to promote shared fundamental values in the international community, such as the rule of law and protecting the human rights and dignity of women and sexual minorities, the communique said.

The G7 gathering came as Ukrainian authorities and the International Criminal Court have been investigating reports of alleged war crimes in the country committed by Russian troops during the war launched by Russia in February 2022.

Among the allegations is the forcible deportation of children from occupied areas to Russia, over which the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin.

The communique said the G7 justice ministers will keep working with Ukraine to "ensure accountability for those who are responsible for the atrocity crimes committed in the course of Russia's war" on its neighbor.

The ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union, also promised Russian sovereign assets in G7 jurisdictions will "remain immobilized" until Moscow "pays for the damages it has caused" to Ukraine.

Since the start of the war, the G7 nations have condemned Russia and implemented tough economic sanctions on it, such as asset freezes targeting Putin and Russian banks.

The communique revealed a plan to set up a task force to share information regarding Kyiv's ongoing and planned anti-corruption initiatives under the coordination of Japan, which holds the G7's rotating presidency this year.

Ukrainian Justice Minister Denis Malyuska joined the talks online. When Japan hosted the G7 summit in Hiroshima in May, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared in person.

Last November, the G7 members held their first-ever meeting of justice ministers in Berlin against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, confirming that there can be "no impunity for war crimes and other atrocities."

Earlier Friday, the G7 ministers held a gathering with their counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the first of its kind, Japan's Justice Ministry said.

Japanese Justice Minister Ken Saito said at the closing of the talks that the participants expressed support for his country's initiative of establishing a new forum, which plans to bring together young government officials from the G7 nations and the 10-member regional bloc.