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Japan imposed financial sanctions on North Korea earlier this week. The action, which came more than two months after the North’s July 5 test-firing of seven missiles, may have been be unavoidable since Pyongyang has not shown any sign that it will return to the six-nation talks on its nuclear-weapons programs. But there is no guarantee that the sanctions will have their desired effect. Tokyo must make every effort to have North Korea sit at the negotiation table. Coordination with Beijing and Seoul, both of which have close ties with Pyongyang, will be important.

Japan’s sanctions target 15 financial and trading organizations and one individual deemed to have links with North Korea’s programs involving missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Government permission will be required for sending money abroad or withdrawing money from their bank accounts in Japan, and for sending money from Japan to their bank accounts abroad. U.S. sanctions already cover 12 of the organizations. The Japanese government will carry out special inspections at about 270 financial institutions to determine their abilities to implement the sanctions.

The sanctions are in line with a July 16 United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned North Korea’s missile tests. The resolution also required all U.N. member states to prevent the transfer of missiles and missile-related items, materials, goods and technology to North Korea and prohibited procurement of the same items from North Korea.

North Korea has boycotted the six-nation talks since November 2005 on account of the U.S. sanctions. But the North should realize that its safety and prosperity depend not on nuclear weapons and missiles, but on improved relations with other countries. Pyongyang should immediately return to the talks, which a year ago produced a joint statement spelling out a peaceful coexistence between North Korea and the U.S. in exchange for the North’s abandoning of its nuclear-weapons program.

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