Mainichi and Sankei wrote that the GOJ has informally decided to not co-sponsor with the EU a motion denouncing North Korea’s human rights violations during a UN Human Rights Council conference that is currently underway in Geneva through the end of March. According to several GOJ sources, Tokyo is inclined to take a soft line toward Pyongyang in an effort to achieve a breakthrough in the stalled negotiations on the abduction issue. The papers said that Japan has submitted similar motions jointly with the EU for the past 11 consecutive years. The GOJ is reportedly likely to support a resolution if the EU chooses to put one forward later this week. The daily added that hardliners in the LDP and conservative audiences at home will perhaps react sharply to the Abe administration’s conciliatory approach, which could be viewed as Tokyo moving toward easing pressure on Pyongyang.
In a related story, Sankei reported that the GOJ is likely to extend its unilateral sanctions on North Korea for two additional years through 2021, projecting that the cabinet will approve the extension in early April. The sanctions center on a ban on trade and port visits by DPRK vessels.