Japan extends sanctions against North Korea

Japan extends sanctions against North Korea

Following international allegations of cyber-hacking and continued nuclear testing, Japan is the next nation to extend sanctions against North Korea. However, there is still hope that North Korea might be opening up to the rest of the world as hundreds of foreigners participated in the Pyongyang marathon last weekend.

Japan is set to extend its sanctions against North Korea. These sanctions will include a trade embargo, a ban on North Korea charter flights and a prohibition on North Korean ships entering Japanese ports, AsiaOne News reports. The BBC reports that these sanctions will be put in place for at least 2 years, and then further extended afterwards if deemed necessary.

Missing Japanese citizens weigh on bilateral relations

The reason behind the embargo is that, in 2002, North Korea admitted to kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s, partly in order to train spies. Five of the abducted citizens were returned to Japan following the revelations.

However, the remaining eight have never been located. North Korea has stated that they are dead and that the issue is closed, but Japan has continued pressing for more information on its missing citizens. Although Pyongyang originally agreed to start an investigation, it has delayed the investigation and release of information, which in return has stoked Japan’s anger.

The newest sanctions are only an insight into decaying relations in the region. North Korea is still a sensitive topic, as it continues using missile launches and fueling unrest in North Asia. In fact, ahead of this week’s US-South Korean security talks, North Korea launched ballistic missiles. Specifically, it launched four short-range missiles about 84 miles into the ocean off its West Coast.

However, the US Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter and his South Korean counterpart, Han Min-koo, said they did not discuss the possible deployment of an advanced missile defense system in order to counter Pyongyang’s nuclear missile threat.

Marathon participants in North Korea’s capital increased fourfold

In many other ways, though, the hermit state appears to be opening up to foreigners and easing its hostility on other fronts. This past weekend, for example, foreigners, including Americans, were allowed to participate in the Pyongyang marathon for the second time.

North Korean news source Arirang has estimated that a total of 650 foreigners were present at the marathon. This number is a fourfold increase over foreign entrants in the 2014 marathon, which is a big deal considering North Korea only started letting foreigners enter the country about a week ago following fears of ebola.

These events come to show that although sanctions and political hostility remain high between North Korea and the majority of the world, there may be some changes underway.

Categories: Asia Pacific, Politics

About Author

Margaux Schreurs

Margaux lives in Beijing and works as an editor at a Beijing-based magazine and website, and writes on a freelance basis for a wide range of publications throughout the world, mainly focusing on East and Southeast Asian current affairs. She is a London School of Economics and Political Science MSc graduate.