Japan imposed additional sanctions against North Korea this week as the rogue communist state continues to advance its nuclear strategy.
An announcement on Friday from Japan’s foreign ministry said that they would freeze the assets of a further 19 companies dealing with North Korea in finance, coal, minerals, and transport.
The move follows North Korea’s testing of another intercontinental ballistic missile over Japan last month, the third test of its kind, and came before Friday’s U.N. Security Council Meeting in New York to discuss the regional crisis.
“North Korea launched an ICBM ballistic missile that landed in our exclusive economic zone and continues to repeat provocative commentaries,” said government spokesman Yoshihide Suga. “In light of this, as we host a ministerial meeting of the UN Security Council on December 15, we have decided on the asset freeze in order to further increase pressure.”
Last month, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe froze the assets of 35 North Korean entities, arguing that it was “not the time for dialogue” but instead a chance to “apply the maximum pressure on North Korea.”
Japan has frozen the assets of 103 organizations and 108 individuals as part of its sanctions or under U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The sanctions also form part of an effort to return some of the Japanese citizens abducted by the North Korean regime in the 1970s, who were used to train spies who would pass as Japanese. Tokyo fears there is little time left for the aging victims.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly urged Asia’s regional powers, particularly North Korea’s ally China, to adopt more economic sanctions, and has even threatened to cut off all trade with any nation dealing with the regime.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also urged Japan to continue doubling down on economic sanctions against the regime following his meeting with Japanese officials this week, adding that they would “never recognize a nuclear-armed North Korea.”
Japan remains a strong ally of South Korea’s, dating back to the 1950s and the Korean War and, as such, is also a regular target of Pyongyang’s aggressive rhetoric. Most recently, North Korea has claimed that Japan will be swiftly covered by “nuclear clouds” and “engulfed in flames” should a war breaks out.
“The four islands of the archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche. Japan is no longer needed to exist near us,” the country declared via state media. “Let’s reduce the U.S. mainland into ashes and darkness. Let’s vent our spite with mobilization of all retaliation means which have been prepared till now.”