Tokyo’s Public Security Intelligence Agency (PSAI) has removed the neo-Nazi designation of the Ukrainian far-right Azov Battalion from Japan’s 2021 manual on international terrorism.
“Recently, cases of misinformation have been published as if the PSAI recognized the Azov battalion as a neo-Nazi organization. We regret that this situation has arisen,” the Japanese agency said, apologizing for the designation of a neo-Nazi organization as neo-Nazi.
“The 2021 guide includes data collected from various open sources, including foreign and Japanese media, research institutes and others,” the statement said. It added that the results were not an independent assessment.
“This does not mean that the agency has recognized the Azov battalion as a neo-Nazi organization,” it stressed despite the fact that the battalion’s own logo bears Nazi insignia.
To prevent the circulation of incorrect information, the PSIA said it had decided to remove the description from the manual.
The Twitter account of the Ukrainian National Guard had posted a video boasting that Azov fighters greased their bullets with lard for use against Muslim Chechens on the Russian side.
— Anoncandanga V (@candanga_anon) February 27, 2022
The cancellation of the terrorist designation came after intelligence suggested that Azov militants had been planning terrorist attacks in Lvov against Western diplomats to force NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Azov is said to have been behind many war crimes in Ukraine, from killing civilians and trying to shift the blame to Moscow, to murdering prisoners of war of the Russian armed forces.
The nationalists also faced further accusations from Moscow of holding hostages in a maternity hospital in Mariupol, which would not be the first crime committed by the notorious far-right neo-Nazi group, as they opened fire on civilians during their evacuation of the city, killing at least two people and wounding four others.
Western media outlets glorify the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion as freedom fighters despite the group being condemned internationally, sanctioned by US and even banned from social media before the Ukraine conflict