LDP OKs extension of sanctions on North Korea

Kyodo News

The Liberal Democratic Party on Thursday endorsed extending part of the government’s economic sanctions on North Korea for another six months from Oct. 14, citing the lack of a breakthrough in the abduction issue.

The Cabinet is expected to formalize the extension Friday, officials said. The sanctions to be extended are included in a set of punitive measures Japan slapped on North Korea following its nuclear and ballistic missile tests last year.

The LDP’s joint panel on foreign affairs, trade and transport OK’d the extension.

“Despite some progress in the North Korean nuclear issue, there is none in the abduction issue,” Tsuyoshi Takagi, who heads the party’s foreign affairs division, told the meeting.

Kenichiro Sasae, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, took part in the meeting and called on LDP lawmakers for support.

After North Korea test-fired ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan in July 2006, Japan banned port calls by the North Korean cargo-passenger ferry Mangyongbong-92, which had been the only direct passenger link between Japan and North Korea. The two countries have no diplomatic ties.

After the Oct. 9, 2006, nuclear test, Japan expanded the scope of the ban to all types of North Korean-registered ships. Japan also prohibited all imports from North Korea, barred North Korean nationals, except for Korean residents in Japan, from entering Japan in principle, and banned Japanese exports of 24 items, including luxury foodstuffs.