National / Politics

Tokyo freezes North Korea-linked assets, including in China and Namibia

Kyodo

The Cabinet on Friday approved the imposition of new unilateral sanctions on a number of companies and individuals from China, Namibia and North Korea in a bid to further pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The fresh sanctions by Tokyo, in step with the United States, are apparently aimed at preventing the inflow of funds into Pyongyang, which continues to develop its nuclear and missile capabilities in violation of U.N. resolutions.

Tokyo identified four Chinese companies and two Namibian firms, as well as one Chinese individual and one North Korean individual as targets for sanctions.

While Beijing is widely considered to have significant influence over Pyongyang, Namibia has been deepening relations with North Korea in recent years, a source close to the matter said.

“North Korea has been repeatedly carrying out provocative acts. . . . We have decided to work in close coordination with the United States and have taken these new measures reflecting on those taken by the United States on the 22nd (of August),” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

On Tuesday, the U.S. administration said it has expanded its North Korea-linked blacklist to encompass 16 mainly Chinese and Russian entities and individuals.

The new measures by Tokyo and Washington came after the U.N. Security Council on Aug. 5 imposed new sanctions on Pyongyang that could slash the country’s $3 billion annual export revenue by one-third in response to its two long-range ballistic missile tests in July.

The penalties on the Chinese entities follow a similar action late last month when Japan and the United States cut off China’s Bank of Dandong from the U.S. financial system. China opposes the imposition of unilateral sanctions by any country outside the framework of the U.N. Security Council, especially those targeting Chinese firms and individuals.

Japan has so far frozen the assets of groups and individuals associated with Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, trade of materials including coal, and dispatch of workers to other nations.