Japan strengthens sanctions against North Korea again

Japan renewed and even strengthened sanctions against North Korea. Tough measures from the Japanese side were the reaction to the recent North Korea’s rocket launch.

North Korea says Sunday's launch was to send a satellite into orbit, but Japan and allies call it a cover for a missile test.

Japan's Cabinet reauthorized and ramped up economic sanctions imposed on the isolated country since a 2006 missile test, by lowering the cap on remittances that must be reported and reducing the amount of money visitors can carry into the North, Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura announced.

The old sanctions, which must be renewed every six months, expire on Monday. The latest renewal is good for one year.

"North Korea forced a missile firing, the act that our country finds intolerable," Kawamura told a news conference. "The additional steps are aimed at monitoring the money flow into the North more closely."

The new measures will reduce the amount of remittances to North Korea subject to reporting to the Japanese government to 10 million yen ($100,000) from 30 million yen ($300,000), and slash the amount of money that travelers can bring into the North by more than one-third to 300,000 yen ($3,000).

The measures Friday also renew an import ban and tight restrictions on exports to the North, as well as a ban on selling luxury goods to North Korea, including pricey beef, caviar, alcohol and cars, in accordance with a U.N. resolution, the AP reports.

Under the new measures which take effect next week, all remittances to North Korea worth more than 10 million yen (100,000 dollars) will have to be reported to the government -- lowering the limit to one third of the current threshold.

The government also plans to lower the amount of cash subject to reporting by travellers to North Korea to 300,000 yen from more than one million yen.

Tokyo first imposed formal bilateral sanctions against Pyongyang in 2006, when North Korea tested missiles and a nuclear bomb.

Since then Japan has halted all imports from North Korea and visits by its citizens, except in special cases, and banned port calls by its ships, including a regular ferry service to the impoverished state, the AFP reports.

To specifically target the leaders of the isolated Pyongyang regime, Japan has also banned exports of 24 luxury products -- including caviar, beef, fatty tuna and selected high-end consumer electronics.

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Author`s name Alex Naumov