TOKYO – The government of Japan imposed on Friday new unilateral sanctions on North Korea, which include freezing the assets of North Korean companies, in response to the launch of the latest North Korean ballistic missile on Nov. 29.
The new sanctions come as an addition to a long list of punitive measures imposed by Japan which affect North Korean companies and senior officials of the Kim Jong-un regime, as well as the movement of citizens between the two countries.
The government decided to add 19 more companies to the list of businesses whose assets have been frozen, including firms involved in financial services, coal and oil traders, shipping and the supply of workers overseas, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Friday.
With the latest announcement, the total number of North Korean companies or entities subject to Japanese sanctions climbed to 56, while 62 individuals have also been blacklisted.
Many of these entities and people also figure in sanctions by the United Nations Security Council.
At a press conference, Suga said the expanded sanctions, which took effect Friday, came in response to North Korea’s continued provocative statements and actions, as well as a lack of progress on the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea decades ago.
He added that the move was timed to coincide with a UNSC ministerial meeting on the situation on the Korean peninsula, to be held in New York later on Friday.
The meeting will discuss the latest North Korean missile launch as well as the conciliatory message issued by United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this week, amid numerous calls for dialogue between the international community and the Kim Jong-un regime.
In a speech at the headquarters of the Kyodo news agency on Friday, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said if a united international community continued to send strong messages, it would force North Korea to change its policy.
Abe said that the UN sanctions imposed in September – to limit energy supplies to North Korea after its sixth nuclear test – were undoubtedly having an effect.
The intercontinental ballistic missile, launched by North Korea on Nov. 29, is seen as another step towards the regime’s goal of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching US territory.