Japan says to impose additional sanctions against North Korea

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will impose additional sanctions against North Korea following the reclusive country’s repeated missile launches and unresolved abduction issue, its top government spokesman said on Friday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un gives field guidance during a visit to the Chemical Material Institute of the Academy of Defense Science in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on August 23, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Japan would freeze the assets of six more organizations and two more individuals linked to North Korea. He said they included four Chinese entities and one Chinese individual and two Namibian entities.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying expressed “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” to the Japanese sanctions.

The United States on Tuesday imposed new North Korea-related sanctions, targeting Chinese and Russian firms and individuals for supporting Pyongyang’s weapons programs, including a Namibia-based subsidiary of a Chinese company and a North Korean entity operating in Namibia.

Asked what message Japan was sending with the additional sanctions, Suga said is it was important to observe the UNSC resolutions.

“It is extremely important to exert pressure in this form while acting in concert with the United States and South Korea,” he said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered more solid-fuel rocket engines, state media reported on Wednesday, as he pursues nuclear and missile programs amid a standoff with Washington.

Responding to Japan’s latest steps, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Beijing opposed any unilateral sanctions outside the United Nations Security Council framework, especially those targeting Chinese entities and people.

Japan’s actions “gravely harm China’s interests and judicial sovereignty, and create new political obstacles to improving China-Japan relations”, Hua told a daily news briefing.

“China demands that Japan immediately ceases with the relevant mistaken methods. If Japan remains obstinately on this course, it must bear the consequences.”

China has signed up for increasingly tough UN sanctions against North Korea, and promised to fully and effectively enforce them.

But China has been angered by unilateral sanctions placed against Chinese companies and individuals by the United States in particular, saying only China has the right to target those in the country who may illegally be aiding Pyongyang.

Reporting by Kaori Kaneko and Hitoshi Ishida; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim & Simon Cameron-Moore