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Japan to more strictly confiscate cargo linked to North Korea’s nuke supplies

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government on Tuesday decided on an ordinance revision aimed at introducing a so-called “catch-all” regulation that enables Japan to seize all cargo items possibly linked to North Korea’s nuclear and missile development.

The revision of the ordinance of the special measures law concerning cargo inspections was approved at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning. It will be promulgated on Friday and come into effect in mid-July.

The aim of the revision is to thoroughly impose sanctions against North Korea adopted by the U.N. Security Council by introducing new regulations, as well as for Japan to show a tougher stance against Pyongyang.

Under the current regulations, more than 100 items subject to a trade embargo, such as nuclear fuel and weapons, are specified in a list annexed to the ordinance. When third-country vessels or planes that have access to North Korea are suspected of carrying the listed items, the ordinance allows the Japan Coast Guard or Japan Customs to inspect and confiscate the items.

However, Pyongyang is believed to have been disassembling weapons and related listed items, and transporting them as raw materials and mechanical parts. As a result, many have pointed out the current system leaves a loophole in the sanctions.

The new regulation is based on a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted in March last year, following North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches and nuclear bomb tests, which obliges member nations to confiscate nuclear- and weapons-related items at their discretion even if the items are not on an embargo list.

“From Japan’s stance, in which we are determined to firmly carry out U.N. sanctions on human-rights issues that include nuclear weapons, missiles and abductions, we’d like to continue to deal with this matter,” said Katsunobu Kato, minister in charge of the abduction issue, at a press conference Tuesday morning. Speech

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