Japan expands sanctions aimed at North Korea

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said North Korea is feeling the pain from increasing international sanctions. (AFP)
Updated 15 December 2017
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Japan expands sanctions aimed at North Korea

TOKYO: Japan said Friday it had added 19 more entities to its list of organizations and individuals targeted by asset-freeze sanctions on North Korea.
The sanctions list now comprises 103 entities and 108 individuals in total, including seven Chinese entities, five Chinese individuals, one Singaporean entity and two Namibian entities, it said.
They include organizations involved in financial services, coal and minerals trading, transportation and sending North Korean laborers abroad, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Japan has already imposed strict sanctions on North Korea, including a blanket ban on trade and port calls.
Top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said: “North Korea launched an ICBM ballistic missile that landed in our exclusive economic zone and continues to repeat provocative commentaries.
“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” on the reclusive state, Suga said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in an address to a group of news media executives in Tokyo, said North Korea is feeling the pain from increasing international sanctions, including the reduction of oil-product imports under UN sanctions.
“The sanctions must be having an impact,” Abe said.
“It is possible that we will see further provocations. But what’s important is that we do not bow to these threats. The international community must continue to coordinate and apply pressure until North Korea changes its policies and seeks negotiations,” Abe said.


US downgrades Pakistan in religious freedom rankings

Updated 7 min 19 sec ago
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US downgrades Pakistan in religious freedom rankings

  • Mike Pompeo said in a statement he added Pakistan to the US list of “countries of particular concern” regarding protection for people to worship

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration on Tuesday placed Pakistan on its annual list of worst offenders for nations that infringe on religious freedom.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement he added Pakistan to the US list of “countries of particular concern” regarding protection for people to worship according to their beliefs. Pakistan had previously been on a special watch list for religious freedom. The downgrade means that Pakistan could be hit with US sanctions although such penalties have generally been waived in the past.
Other countries on the blacklist, which calls out nations for “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom,” are China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. All had been so designated in last year’s list. Uzbekistan had previously been named a “country of particular concern,” but Pompeo upgraded it to the special watch list. The watch list now also includes the Comoros Islands and Russia.
In addition, Pompeo designated several Islamic militant groups as “entities of particular concern” as they do not meet the definition of countries. Those are the Al-Nusra front in Syria, the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al-Qaeda, Somalia’s Al-Shabab, Boko Haram in West Africa, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the Daesh and the Taliban.
“In far too many places across the globe, individuals continue to face harassment, arrests, or even death for simply living their lives in accordance with their beliefs,” Pompeo said. “The United States will not stand by as spectators in the face of such oppression.”