Japan welcomes ‘stronger’ U.S.-China sanctions against North Korea


Staff Writer

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday that the draft resolution agreed to by the United States and China on expanding sanctions against North Korea for its latest nuclear test and rocket launch reflects Japan’s call for stringent U.N. action.

U.S. diplomats on Thursday submitted the draft to the United Nations Security Council after reaching an agreement with their counterparts from China, the North’s biggest economic partner. According to news reports, the document for North Korea calls for a ban on imports of aviation fuel and an export ban on commodities such as gold, titanium, coal and iron ore.

After North Korea provoked the international community by conducting a nuclear test, which Pyongyang claimed was its first hydrogen bomb, the U.S. and Chinese diplomats took almost a month and half to reach the agreement.

While China was on the fence about implementing a strong resolution on the nuclear test, Pyongyang conducted the rocket launch earlier this month. Many again considered the purported satellite launch to be a cover for testing a long-range ballistic missile.

Japan, the U.S. and South Korea have already implemented their own sanctions. But Japan has been calling for strong sanctions, and a high ranking Foreign Ministry official said Japan has communicated its intentions to Washington.

The prevailing thought is that the sanctions implemented since 2006, when the North conducted it first nuclear test, have not been strong enough to effectively prevent the impoverished country from testing weapons of mass destruction. The official said the latest sanctions would be effective in “plugging loopholes.”

Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations Motohide Yoshikawa told NHK that the expanded sanctions are stronger than before.

In a related development the same day, Japan, Australia and India agreed during their second trilateral dialogue in Tokyo to cooperate on adopting the new resolution.

Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki said the three nonpermanent U.N. Security Council members agreed that the international community has to cut off the flow of money, human talent and goods to North Korea in order to deter Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

The trilateral dialogue was inaugurated last year in New Delhi to discuss enhanced cooperation on regional security, including maritime issues. Japan has expanded both economic and security cooperation with the two countries in recent years.

China’s recent deployment of surface-to-air missiles to the Paracel Islands and the subsequent installment of radar in the South China Sea are shared concerns. Saiki said the three countries agreed that a new framework is needed to secure freedom of navigation.