TOKYO, April 3 (Reuters) - Japan extended sanctions against North Korea by a year on Tuesday after the reclusive state said it would press ahead with a rocket launch in the face of international criticism.
Japan first imposed sanctions after North Korea tested a nuclear device and ballistic missiles in 2006 and have extended them each year since then.
“We decided to extend by one year a measure that prohibits North Korean ships from calling at Japanese ports and another measure that bans imports and exports with the North,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters.
Japan’s ties with North Korea have long been fraught due to bitterness over Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation of the Korean peninsula, Japanese fears about North Korea’s rocket and nuclear programmes and anger over the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents decades ago.
North Korea, already subject to international sanctions, has said it is merely sending a weather satellite into space, but South Korea and the United States say it is a disguised ballistic missile test.
The launch would only lead to further isolation of the impoverished North, which much show its sincerity if on-again-off-again six-party aid-for-disarmament talks are to restart, U.S. President Barack Obama said last month. (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Nick Macfie)