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Japan Imposes New Sanctions on NKorea  12/15 06:13

   Japan froze the assets of 19 companies on Friday to step up pressure on 
North Korea to return Japanese citizens that it abducted in the 1970s and 1980s 
and to halt its nuclear weapons and missile development.

   TOKYO (AP) -- Japan froze the assets of 19 companies on Friday to step up 
pressure on North Korea to return Japanese citizens that it abducted in the 
1970s and 1980s and to halt its nuclear weapons and missile development.

   The companies, which have already been sanctioned by the United States, deal 
in finance, coal and minerals, transport including shipping and the sending of 
North Korean workers overseas.

   A Foreign Ministry official said the unilateral move shows Japan's 
commitment to sanctions ahead of a U.N. Security Council meeting in New York 
later Friday to discuss the North Korea situation.

   Japan has now frozen the assets of 103 companies and organizations and 108 
individuals under either its own sanctions or Security Council resolutions. Of 
those, 56 groups and 62 individuals were unilateral.

   Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan will continue to put 
pressure on North Korea to seek a resolution to both the abductee and nuclear 
and missile issues.

   North Korean agents abducted Japanese citizens to train spies to pass as 
Japanese.

   Later Friday, the United Nations' independent investigator on human rights 
in North Korea, Tomas Ojea Quintana, met with the families of abducted Japanese 
citizens.

   Quintana arrived in Tokyo on Thursday to discuss the issue with Japanese 
officials after a visit earlier this week to South Korea, where he investigated 
North Korean allegations that Seoul abducted 12 North Korean women from China.

   Japan's abduction issues minister, Katsunobu Kato, asked Quintana for his 
support, saying there is little time left for the aging families of the victims.

   Japan says North Korea snatched at least 17 people in the 1970s and 1980s. 
North Korea has acknowledged abducting 13 and allowed five of them to visit 
Japan in 2002. All five stayed instead of returning to North Korea. The North 
says the other eight have died, without providing convincing proof, and their 
families have not given up hope.

   Many of the families are getting old and are desperately seeking outside 
help to bring their loved ones home. This week, Nobuko Masumoto, whose daughter 
Rumiko was abducted with her boyfriend from Japan's southern coast in 1978, 
died at the age of 90.

   U.S. President Donald Trump's meeting with families of abductees in November 
during a visit to Japan raised their hope for more public awareness and 
international support.


(KA)

 
 
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