Japan holds off on additional sanctions for North Korea


Japan has decided not to impose additional sanctions on North Korea for the time being to abide by the weaker stance adopted by the U.N. Security Council on the failed rocket launch last week, government sources said Friday.

Japan concluded it should avoid “stimulating” North Korea into escalating the situation after the rocket broke up over the Yellow Sea west of South Korea on April 13, the sources said. The North said the launch was held to put a satellite in orbit, but the United States, Japan and South Korea accused it of being a long-range missile test.

On Monday, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement rather than a binding resolution to strongly condemn the launch. But Tokyo says it is ready to impose additional sanctions in case of any future launches or a nuclear test, as the U.N. statement also indicated the Security Council’s “determination to take action accordingly” if either were to happen, the sources said.

Japan has few additional sanctions it can impose by itself, but it could target remittances from Korean residents of Japan by lowering the maximum amount that can be sent back to their impoverished country without having to inform the government, they said. At present, money transfers exceeding ¥3 million must be reported.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura has said additional sanctions were being discussed, but Japan has already banned all exports to North Korea and port calls by North Korean vessels for nuclear tests and missile launches held since July 2006.