Nearly two dozen pro-Pyongyang Koreans barred from Japan under new sanctions


Sanctions over Pyongyang’s recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests have resulted in Tokyo banning 22 people from re-entering Japan after visiting North Korea, sources said Sunday.

Measures approved last month by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government ban the re-entry of senior officials of a pro-Pyongyang group and of Korean engineers living in Japan who are suspected of involvement in nuclear and missile development, they said.

Subject to the sanctions are officials belonging to the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, more commonly known as Chongryon, including its chairman, Ho Jong Man. Also included are officials of Korean University in Tokyo, the sources said.

Five members of an association of Korean scientists and engineers living in Japan are also on the list, they said.

Japan banned around eight people, including senior Chongryon officials, from re-entering Japan in 2006 after a previous North Korean missile launch.

Tokyo rescinded the measure in July 2014 after Pyongyang agreed to launch a new investigation into the whereabouts of Japanese nationals abducted and taken there during the 1970s and 1980s.

The new sanctions are expected to make it hard for high-ranking Chongryon officials to travel to North Korea, where the first ruling Workers’ Party congress in 36 years is to be held in May.

Chongryon leader Ho traveled there in September 2014 to attend North Korea’s top legislature.

Earlier this month the U.N. Security Council approved new sanctions against Pyongyang amid global condemnation over North Korea’s fourth nuclear bomb test in January and launch last month of a rocket, widely seen as a pretext for testing long-range ballistic missile technology.

On Feb. 10 Tokyo decided to revive its own sanctions on North Korea, such as prohibiting the entry of North Korean-registered ships and certain individuals.

In response, on Feb. 12 Pyongyang announced it was disbanding the committee investigating the abductees, a move their families worry will leave the matter unresolved.