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Japan expands North Korea sanction blacklists in step with U.S.

TOKYO — Japan’s Cabinet imposed additional unilateral sanctions Friday on North Korea, expanding its blacklists of entities and individuals with ties to the country in response to its recent intercontinental ballistic missile test.


The latest move, which was criticized by China, is in step with the United States, whose Congress passed a bill the previous day aimed at tightening sanctions on North Korea.


Five organizations including two Chinese firms and nine individuals, which are not associated with nuclear and missile development, will be newly subject to Japan’s sanctions, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.


The Chinese firms are the Bank of Dandong, a Chinese bank accused of laundering money for North Korea, and Dalian Global Unity Shipping Co.


In June, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the bank and cut it off from the U.S. financial system. The bank was also found to have opened accounts in two megabanks in Japan.


The shipping firm, which operates in the northern Chinese city of Dalian and other locations, was also blacklisted for transporting freight, including coal and steel products, between China and North Korea.


Japan has been freezing the assets of groups and individuals associated with nuclear and missile development.


To intensify pressure on North Korea, the latest targets will be expanded to include those who are engaged in financial services, transport operations and exports of minerals such as coal. Their assets will be frozen.


“It’s important to strengthen pressure,” Kishida said, adding, “We will urge North Korea to take concrete action toward the resolution of issues such as nuclear and missile (development) and abductions (of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 80s).”


At a press briefing in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang called Japan’s decision a “wrongdoing” and urged Tokyo to immediately withdraw it.


“If Japan insists on doing this, it will create major political obstacles for China-Japan relations and both sides’ cooperation on the (Korean) peninsula issue,” Lu said.


At their trilateral summit meeting in Germany earlier this month, the leaders of Japan, the United States and South Korea agreed to increase pressure on Pyongyang to push it to “refrain from provocative and threatening actions.”


The legislation, passed by the Congress on Thursday, would bar ships owned by Pyongyang or countries that fail to comply with U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions against it from operating in American waters or landing at U.S. ports.


It also prohibits goods produced in whole or part by North Korean forced labor from entering the United States.


China has been opposed to Japan’s unilateral sanctions against North Korea, led by leader Kim Jong Un.


Pyongyang announced on July 4 that it successfully test-fired an ICBM for the first time, posing a potentially game-changing threat to the security of the United States and the rest of the world.


North Korea’s testing of nuclear and ballistic missile technology is banned by the United Nations and is the subject of multiple international sanctions.

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