Japan extends NKorea sanctions
( AP ) - Japan's Cabinet approved plans Tuesday to extend economic sanctions on North Korea, despite the communist state's agreement to disable its main nuclear complex by year's end, the Foreign Ministry said.
The sanctions - first imposed in October 2006 after North Korea's nuclear test and extended in April - include closing Japanese ports to North Korean ships and banning the import of North Korean goods.
The Cabinet decided on another six-month extension despite the North's agreement last week because Pyongyang has yet to take concrete steps to end its nuclear programs, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity.
Japanese officials have also complained of little progress made in the issue of its citizens allegedly abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and '80s, the issue that has been a main sticking point for the two countries without diplomatic ties.
Under an agreement reached at the six-party talks in February, Pyongyang agreed to provide a complete list of its nuclear programs and disable its reactor at its Yonbyon facility by Dec. 31. In return, the North is to receive 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil or other assistance. Tokyo has refused to provide aid under the disarmament accord unless Pyongyang accounts for the alleged abductions.
Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has urged Pyongyang to take concrete steps to resolve the abduction issue, and that Tokyo was also willing to settle "the unfortunate past" resulting from Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule.
North Korea's nuclear disarmament agreement also involves South Korea, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.