World News

Japan to ban exports to North Korea after nuclear test

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will impose fresh sanctions on North Korea including a ban on all exports to the reclusive state in response to a nuclear test last month, ruling party lawmakers said on Monday.

The move comes after the U.N. Security Council on Friday unanimously approved wider sanctions against the communist state, which included a ban on all weapons exports from North Korea, as well as most arms imports.

Japan’s new sanctions, which will also include banning foreigners who violated previous sanctions regarding trade and financial transactions with North Korea from re-entering Japan, will be decided by cabinet on Tuesday, the lawmakers added.

But the punitive measures were expected to have a limited impact, as Japan’s exports have already been small and all imports have been banned as part of previous sanctions.

Kenshiro Matsunami, head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s panel on foreign affairs, said he hoped banning Japanese exports would be effective.

But he told reporters: “I am worried how (effective) it will be as trade will still exist through a third country.”

Japanese exports to North Korea have been shrinking sharply since 2006, when Japan banned North Korean ships from entering its ports and cut exports of luxury items to the isolated country.

Last year, Japanese exports to North Korea totaled 800 million yen ($8.14 million), down almost 85 percent from 2006, according to the government data.

Japan’s ties with neighbouring North Korea have been plagued by issues such as Japan’s 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean peninsula, under which many Koreans suffered, as well as Pyongyang’s abductions of Japanese citizens decades ago.

($1=98.28 Yen)

Reporting by Yoko Nishikawa; Editing by Jeremy Laurence