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Japan and seven Pacific Rim economies including China, South Korea and the United States agreed Monday to take effective measures to prevent North Korea from obtaining, through indirect exports, illegal products with military potential.

Japanese officials said the eight economies reached an agreement to establish a system through which they can inform each other about suspicious trade practices.

Although it is becoming harder to make illegal exports to North Korea from Japan, many Asian nations still have loose export controls and could be used for indirect exports to North Korea, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The eight economies also agreed that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their means of transportation, and related materials and technologies pose a major threat to the world and regional security, and that it is important for all countries to continue efforts to stem such moves, the officials said.

The meeting, held at Japan’s initiative, was the first on export controls in Asia, according to the officials.

Takashi Suzuki, director general of METI’s Trade and Economic Cooperation Bureau, chaired a meeting in Tokyo attended by director general-level officials in charge of export control policies from Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and the U.S., the officials said.

The participants agreed to draw up a basic principle on export controls in the region when they gather again in Tokyo in the spring, the officials said, adding the eight economies will apply the principle to other nations later.

In addition, they agreed it is important to share technical knowledge about export controls and administrative experiences so they can take effective steps to crack down on such exports, the officials said.

In May, police searched a trading company in Tokyo on suspicion of attempting illegally to export to North Korea via Thailand electronic parts that can be used for weapons.

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