Japan yesterday extended its sanctions on North Korea for another two years as Pyongyang continues to develop nuclear weapons without any progress in resolving the abductions of Japanese nationals.
Japan bans all trade between the two nations and prohibits North Korean-registered ships from entering its ports, except for humanitarian purposes. It also bans flights between the two nations.
Tokyo also abides by UN sanctions against North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. They include an arms trade ban, a freeze of North Korean assets, a ban on people exchanges, and restrictions on education and training.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato yesterday said the Cabinet had decided to extend the sanctions, which were set to expire on Tuesday next week.
North Korea test-fired two ballistic missiles on March 25 for the first time in about a year, which Japan has condemned as a breach of UN Security Council resolutions.
Japan, the US and South Korea have called for full implementation of the UN sanctions and for ensuring international efforts to denuclearize North Korea.
In 2002, North Korea admitted to kidnapping 13 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s to train spies in Japanese language and culture. Five of them were allowed to return to Japan later that year, and Pyongyang says the others had died or never entered the North.
Japan believes more people might have been abducted and that many might still be alive. Questions over their fate, along with North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, have kept relations frozen between the two nations.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has made resolving the abduction issue a high priority for his administration and has said he is open to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for talks without setting any preconditions.
Tokyo began limited sanctions against North Korea in 2006 and has since extended and expanded them.
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