All Sunday morning papers reported that the Chinese Commerce Ministry announced on Saturday that it will suspend the import of coal from North Korea from Feb. 19 to the end of this year as part of the UNSC’s sanctions resolutions that were adopted following North Korea’s nuclear tests. Asahi wrote that since coal exports to China have been an important means for North Korea to obtain foreign currency, the announcement is likely to deal a heavy blow to the nation. Nikkei wrote that since China has been insisting that the U.S. needs to hold direct talks with North Korea in order to resolve the North Korean nuclear and missile issues, it is likely to urge the Trump administration to take more active steps. The paper said while China is hoping to pave the way for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks, the outlook remains uncertain.
Monday’s Yomiuri reported that Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hagiuda appeared on a Fuji TV program on Sunday and welcomed China’s announcement. He said: “This should have been done ages ago. We welcome China’s decision.” Referring to North Korea’s ballistic missile launch on Feb. 12, Hagiuda also reportedly stressed the need to remind North Korea that its reckless behavior only isolates it in the international community.