Japan to freeze assets of Chinese firms linked to North Korea in line with US sanctions, source says

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 August, 2017, 10:32am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 August, 2017, 10:32am

Japan has decided to follow the United States to put more pressure on North Korea by newly imposing unilateral sanctions on six companies and two individuals of China and Namibia, a government source said on Thursday.

The fresh sanctions are designed to freeze the assets of those who are judged to be involved in helping Pyongyang export coal and send workers to other countries, apparently aimed at curbing the inflow of money into the nation that has developed nuclear and missile programmes in violation of UN resolutions.

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But Japan’s latest move will probably draw criticism from China, which has been opposed to the imposition of unilateral sanctions by any country outside the framework of the UN Security Council, especially those targeting Chinese firms and individuals.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet is expected to approve the new sanctions on Friday, the source said.

On Tuesday, the US administration said it has expanded its blacklist to 16 mainly Chinese and Russian entities and individuals for supporting North Korea’s weapons developments.

The new measures by Tokyo and Washington came after the UN Security Council on August 5 imposed new sanctions on Pyongyang that could slash the country’s US$3 billion annual export revenue by one-third in response to its two long-range ballistic missile tests in July.

The penalties on the Chinese entities follow a similar action late last month when Japan and the United States sanctioned the Bank of Dandong, a Chinese bank accused of laundering money for North Korea, cutting it off from the US financial system.

Japan has so far frozen the assets of groups and individuals associated with Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development projects, trade of materials including coal, and dispatch of workers to other nations.

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According to the source, Tokyo will newly designate four Chinese companies and two Namibian firms, as well as one Chinese individual and one Namibian individual. The total amount of 72 entities and 81 individuals will be sanctioned by Tokyo.

The two companies based in Namibia are believed to be engaged in the dispatch of North Korean workers, the source said.

In recent years, Namibia has been deepening relations with Pyongyang, given that a North Korean senior official visited the African country to meet its president, the source added.