The government plans to ban financial institutions from doing business with North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank, working closely with the United States to punish the hermit nation over its nuclear weapons program, official sources said Tuesday.
Finance Ministry and Foreign Ministry officials separately conveyed the plan to U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen during his visit to Japan, and the two sides agreed on ramping up coordination in sanctioning the North, they said.
Although there are currently no transactions between Japanese banks and North Korea’s primary foreign exchange institution, Japan hopes that imposing economic sanctions on the bank will prompt other nations — including China, the North’s patron — to ramp up pressure on Pyongyang, the sources said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said senior officials told Cohen that Tokyo is mulling a financial sanction “like” the recently announced measure by Washington to ban U.S. banks from carrying out transactions with the Foreign Trade Bank.
The officials told Cohen that Japan will “swiftly move forward processes to install (sanctions) based on the U.S. sanctions,” Suga told reporters.
Washington’s unilateral sanctions come after North Korea conducted its third nuclear test last month in clear violation of a U.N. resolution.
Following the atomic test, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a new resolution authorizing tougher sanctions against the North.
Based on the resolution, Japan is eyeing its own steps, including restricting the movement of people. Tokyo is also calling on the international community to enforce the U.N. resolution, Suga said.
In February, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in phone chats with U.S. President Barack Obama that Washington’s action to halt U.S. banks’ transactions with Banco Delta Asia in Macau over money-laundering concerns involving North Korea between 2005 and 2007 was an effective policy.