In the latest example of Japan’s “maximum pressure” approach toward Pyongyang, Tokyo imposed fresh sanctions on the regime by freezing the assets of 19 North Korean institutions, officials said Friday.
The move brought the total number of North Korea-linked organizations and individuals whose assets Japan has frozen to 103 and 108, respectively.
Of the 19 organizations newly added to the blacklist, three are banks, two trade minerals including coal, 10 run transportation businesses and four dispatch workers overseas, according to the Foreign Ministry. These institutions have already been singled out by the United States in a series of sanctions unveiled after January 2016, a ministry official said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the latest move was in response to North Korea’s launch last month of what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile that fell within Japan’s exclusive economic zone — not to mention a litany of rhetorical threats and continued failures to make progress in resolving the long-standing issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped by the regime decades ago.
Referring to the latest test-firing, the top government spokesman said the “reckless” act “further underlined the need for us to strengthen our pressure on the regime to change its policy.”
“We will stick to our policy of reciprocating an action with an action, and firmly demand North Korea take concrete steps to resolve our concerns over its pursuit of nuclear and missile development programs and its abduction of Japanese citizens,” Suga said, adding that Tokyo timed its unveiling of the sanctions with a U.N. Security Council meeting held the same day in New York on nuclear nonproliferation and North Korea.
Japan’s move illustrates its solidarity with the United States and South Korea as the trio seeks to further squeeze the North — coming less than a week after Seoul similarly added several North Korean groups and individuals to its blacklist. The unilateral penalty reportedly banned any financial transactions with South Koreans and froze the assets of those sanctioned in the South.
The Foreign Ministry said all 19 organizations blacklisted on Friday are headquartered in North Korea, although dispatch firm Korea Computer Center has branches in Germany, China, Syria, India and the United Arab Emirates.
The newly listed financial institutions are Kumgang Bank, North East Asia Bank and Rason International Commercial Bank, while traders include Korea Ocean Shipping Agency, which has offices in eight locations in North Korea.
Of the total organizations and individuals subject to Japan’s asset-freezing, 88 organizations and 101 individuals are North Korean. The rest include seven Chinese organizations and five Chinese individuals, a Singaporean organization and a Singaporean individual and two Namibian organizations.
The U.S., for its part, has so far frozen the assets of about 150 organizations and 150 individuals, according to the Foreign Ministry.
The ministry said it will consider further sanctions based on Pyongyang’s reaction to United Nations Security Council resolutions and Japan’s move on Friday.