Japan’s Cabinet authorizes fresh sanctions on North Korea


The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved Friday new sanctions by Japan against North Korea in response to its rocket launch and fourth nuclear test.

The steps approved included the ban on entry of all North Korean-registered ships into Japan and of third-country ships from entering Japan after visiting ports in North Korea.

Japan will also ban remittances over ¥100,000 ($870) to North Korea.

The measures are “extremely harsh,” showing “our determination to deal with North Korea under the principle of ‘dialogue and pressure’ and ‘action for action,’ ” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference following the Cabinet approval, adding that the sanctions will be swiftly implemented.

The new steps are among a set of punitive measures the government announced Feb. 10 to cut flows of money, people and products to North Korea.

Japan has already banned the re-entry from North Korea of Japan-based foreign engineers who are involved in nuclear and missile development.

North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test last month and also launched a rocket earlier this month in a move widely seen as a pretext for testing long-range ballistic missile technology. Those acts came in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions and triggered global condemnation.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday signed a bill to strengthen U.S. economic sanctions against North Korea into law, while South Korea has said it will completely suspend operations at the joint industrial zone in North Korea’s border city of Kaesong.

In parallel to those unilateral moves, the U.N. Security Council is currently debating a fresh resolution to impose harsher sanctions on North Korea.

Suga, the top government spokesman, said Japan hopes the council will swiftly adopt a new resolution to impose “strong” sanctions on North Korea.

He also said Tokyo will continue to make efforts to address the issue of Pyongyang’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, as the victims’ families worry that the tightening of sanctions would make it increasingly difficult to resolve the issue.

North Korea said last week it has disbanded a special committee to look into the whereabouts of missing Japanese nationals suspected of having been abducted decades ago, in response to Japan’s announcement of stricter sanctions.

“We will not close the door for dialogue (with North Korea) from our side,” Suga said.