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Japan eager to step up sanctions against North Korea

  • 2016-01-08 15:00:00
  • , Yomiuri
  • Translation

(Yomiuri: January 8, 2016 – p. 3)


 In light of the recent nuclear test by North Korea, the Japanese government has started mulling stepping up sanctions of its own against North Korea. The focus will likely be on such sanctions as strengthening restrictions on the travel of all people to and from North Korea, including the ban on re-entry by senior members of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon).


 At party representatives’ interpellation in the House of Councillors, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated his determination to toughen Japan’s unilateral sanctions against North Korea, saying, “We will take firm and resolute actions, including sanction measures of our own.” The government banned North Korean freighter Man Gyong Bong from entering Japanese ports in response to Pyongyang’s missile launch in 2006. It has imposed additional sanctions against the North in a broad range of areas, including travel by people between Japan and North Korea, trading between the two countries, and remittances, every time the reclusive state has conducted nuclear tests and launched ballistic missiles.


 In light of the nuclear test this time around, the government is mulling reinstating its unilateral sanctions, which were removed in July 2014 in return for North Korea’s reinvestigation of Japanese abductees. It is also considering new sanctions.


 According to the Ministry of Justice, the number of North Korean nationals and North Korean residents in Japan entering Japan in 2014 drastically dropped to 1,756 from 10,686 in 2005 before the sanctions were imposed. The restoration of sanctions such as the ban on the reentry of senior Chongryon members “will deal a major blow to North Korea and Chongryon,” according to a government source.


 A set of proposals compiled last June by the Liberal Democratic Party’s Headquarters on North Korean Abductions called for reinstating sanctions and imposing additional sanctions against North Korea, including expanding the scope of people subject to restrictions on travel to and from North Korea if no concrete progress is made leading to the return of abductees to Japan.


 However, some officials in the government are concerned that if Japan strengthens its unilateral sanctions, Pyongyang will harden its stance and the abduction issue will come to a standstill. Although the government plans to continue calling on the North to conduct investigations on the abduction issue, there is a view that if Japan decides to impose sanctions, North Korea will refuse to hold negotiations on the abduction issue.


 Japan’s major sanctions against North Korea



o Ban on re-entry to Japan by senior Chongryon members


o Call for Japanese nationals to refrain from traveling to North Korea


o Ban in principle on entry to Japan by North Korean nationals


· Suspension of remittances to organizations and individuals suspected of involvement in the development of weapons of mass destruction and missiles (Japan implements unilateral sanctions by expanding scope)


o Notification of taking cash and reporting on remittances to North Korea


(partial lifting / amount for taking cash increased from over 100,000 yen to over 1 million yen / amount for remittances boosted from 3 million yen to over 30 million yen)


· Ban on export of “luxurious goods” such as passenger cars


· Ban on export of supplies related to weapons of mass destruction


o Ban on export of all products

Other Items

· Cargo inspections of ships heading to and from North Korea carrying embargoed nuclear and missile supplies


o Ban on entry of chartered planes to Japan


o Ban on entry of all North Korean ships to Japanese ports


(partial lifting / port calls for humanitarian purposes allowed)


· Items marked with solid black dots are sanctions based on UN Security Council resolutions.


· Shaded items are lifted sanction measures (including partial lifting).

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