Monday, February 09, 2004

KCNA don't like it

Japan has passed legislation that would allow it to impose economic sanctions on North Korea. If Japan does impose such sanctions then North Korea would "lose its main source of hard currency":

Japan's parliament passed a law on Monday allowing Tokyo to slap economic sanctions on North Korea, a move likely to further strain bilateral ties ahead of six-way talks aimed at defusing the Korean nuclear crisis.

The legislation, which cleared parliament's Upper House following Lower House approval late last month, will enable Japanese authorities to limit remittances to North Korea, one of its few sources of badly needed cash.

North Korean official media lashed out at the move, which comes ahead of six-country talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program opening in Beijing on February 25.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) carried a statement by the DPRK-Japan Friendship Association in which it urged the North Korean government to ban Japan from taking part in the six-way talks. DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.

"The DPRK-Japan Friendship Association requests the government of the DPRK not to have any bilateral contact with Japan nor allow Japan to participate in the six-way talks," the statement said.

The parties to the multilateral talks -- China, South and North Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States -- agreed last week after much wrangling to hold the second round of the negotiations later this month.

A first round of talks held in Beijing in August ended inconclusively.

The legislation, jointly sponsored by the ruling coalition and main opposition Democratic Party, would allow Japan to impose sanctions on any country to maintain "peace and stability."

But lawmakers who presented the bill have said it was aimed mainly at putting pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs and its failure to explain what happened to Japanese nationals it abducted decades ago.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has said the move to enact the legislation did not mean punitive steps were imminent, but has said it would broaden Tokyo's options against Pyongyang.

Under existing laws, Japan cannot impose sanctions on a country unless they are part of an international effort, such as a United Nations resolution.

But the new legislation would allow it to act on its own to suspend remittances and trade, and take other steps to restrict the flow of money and goods.

Some analysts believe cash-strapped North Korea could lose its main source of hard currency if Japan imposes sanctions.


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