• Kyodo

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Japan is considering additional sanctions against North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s refusal to reinstate an earlier moratorium on missile testing, Foreign Minister Taro Aso said Friday.

“Japan is set to impose various sanctions on North Korea,” Aso said, reiterating the government’s threat to take new financial measures against the North, in addition to those it imposed after Pyongyang test-launched seven ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan earlier this month.

Aso made the remarks following a meeting in Kuala Lumpur with foreign ministers from nine other Asian and Pacific Rim countries gathered there to discuss security in Northeast Asia.

North Korea, whose missile and nuclear arms programs have been a source of international tension, refused to attend the meeting.

Aso said the ministers agreed to cooperate in implementing a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning North Korea’s missile tests.

Japan slapped unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang following the July 5 tests, including a six-month ban on port calls by the North Korean ferry Mangyongbong-92, the only passenger link between Japan and the North.

North Korean officials were also barred from entering Japan and screening of other visitors has been tightened.

The U.N. resolution, adopted unanimously by the Security Council in New York on July 15, requires all member states to prevent the transfer of financial resources, as well as goods and technology that may be used in North Korea’s missile programs or in the development of weapons of mass destruction.

North Korea swiftly rejected the resolution. In light of Pyongyang’s refusal to accept its terms, Japan has begun working-level discussions on new economic sanctions including restrictions on remittances and financial assets to the North.

Among possible new sanctions are a ban on remittances from Japan to North Korea and on trade with Pyongyang. The foreign exchange and trade control law, which governs Japan’s trade with North Korea, was revised in 2004 to allow the government to impose unilateral sanctions.

A ban on remittances would be a major blow to North Korea because cash transfers from pro-Pyongyang Korean residents in Japan are a major source of foreign currency for the country.

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