Japan Eyes North Korea Sanctions
Image Credit: Office of the Japanese Prime Minister

Japan Eyes North Korea Sanctions


There have been some positive signals lately from North Korea that it’s willing to blunt years of intransigence and engage with the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency on its nuclear weapons program.

Last month’s bilateral deal with the U.S., in which Pyongyang agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment activities and implement a moratorium on its long range missile and nuclear tests in exchange for 240,000 tons of food aid, brings hope to concerned regional powers that the North might be willing to return the stalled Six-Party Talks with transparency and an eagerness to strike a deal.

But despite this slight thaw, reports indicate that the Japanese government will extend its existing sanctions on North Korea, citing a lack of progress on resolving the issue of the return of its abducted nationals. Tokyo often channels its North Korea policy in silos, separating Pyongyang’s nuclear program from its bilateral dispute with the regime over the return of its kidnapped citizens. However, the issue has proven difficult to compartmentalize and continues to stymie Japan’s ability to become a meaningful player in international efforts aimed at nudging the North back to the diplomatic table.  

The current sanctions that the Japanese government has in place are in addition to the international sanctions on the North as a result of its nuclear weapons program. The set of unilateral sanctions, implemented after Pyongyang’s nuclear test in 2006, are set to expire next month. The penalties effectively smother all bilateral trade between the countries. Unfortunately, the strong-stick policy has thus far driven the North farther away from a resolution on the abduction issue with Tokyo.

Japan is caught in a bind. While it supports U.S. efforts to bring North Korea back to the Six-Party Talks on one hand, the government is concerned that it may be shut out of future discussions on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, at least in terms of influence. This would hinder its ability to induce the Kim Jong-un to resolve the issue of its abducted citizens. For this reason, Japan can be expected to continue to apply unilateral pressure to Pyongyang through a separate track.

Mao the Clown
March 19, 2012 at 23:26

Wow! The CCP propaganda 50 cent bloggers must be working overtime to support the loud mouth JC. What about Mao Zedong’s culture revolution massacres and the invasion of Tibet? Have you forgotten about that? Hypocrisy is a double edge sword John, once the CCP recognizes a free Tibet and the massacre of millions of their own people then perhaps the world would have more respect for China.

John L. Yoon
March 16, 2012 at 06:15


I am sure that the majority of people on this site respect and look at China as the future #1 powerful nation in the world- I myself have an very favorable view of China and its people as I have met many Chinese people and as one who has visited China. I in fact think Korea has much more in common with China than Japan and will continue to grow closer in the future.

John, you really need to tone down your message- most of what you say is indeed true and they’re strong points to a certain degree. However communication is all about conveying your message in a way it doesn’t alienate your audience.

Best of wishes,

John L. Yoon
March 16, 2012 at 06:03


I am highly confused as to why you are on this page if you don’t “care” about issues such as the hatred that guides North Korean policy towards Japan- why do think North Korea ignores Japan except to kidnap citizens, fire missiles towards it and stir up hatred towards it in its propaganda?

It’s because of the “war crimes” that Japan committed for several decades towards Korea which you of course don’t “care” about.

People like you shouldn’t be reading things like this if you don’t even care about what guides current international relations and national policy making. If you want to be so emotionally ignorant, you could always watch FOX or CNN- maybe that would be more to your taste?

John L. Yoon
March 16, 2012 at 05:55

“Eye for an eye?”

ACT, are you kidding me? I don’t think you’ve read anything about Korean history. If you had, you wouldn’t be comparing the actions of NK and Japan on equal terms.

John L. Yoon
March 16, 2012 at 05:52

Hey John,

Usually I disagree with you but I have to agree with you here. When looking at what Japan has done to Korea- they annexed us under the pretext of protection, killed THOUSANDS OF US when we protested this in the streets, dragged us into WW2 whether we liked or not (thousands of conscripted and exploited Korean soliders, `comfort women`and experts were on Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and many other places). Then the Japanese got rich in the post WW2 period by selling us supplies to fight our civil war just 5 years after they fled from Korea.

The Japanese haven`t learned a damned thing in 60 years. However John, I hope you realize that North Korea is that much better either- stuffing their fellow people into soviet styled gulags, starving their entire society to the point that children are stunted, threatening to destroy the economic prosperity of their own people in the south and becoming a puppet state of China. There is serial hypocrisy on all sides John including YOURS.

March 16, 2012 at 03:55

You are roaming all over the site with war drum beating, twisting facts, spewing lies, self-making stuffs, ect…With you, everyone becomes a China hater.

John Chan
March 16, 2012 at 00:41

Preventing eyes from being poked is not an eye for an eye.

John Chan
March 16, 2012 at 00:37

Has anyone tired of demonizing China yet?

March 15, 2012 at 23:55


an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.

March 15, 2012 at 23:19

JC, don’t you ever get tired of preaching your war crime rhetoric? Enough already!!!, NO ONE CARES!!!!

John Chan
March 15, 2012 at 18:22

Japan using “abducted nationals” as an excuse to extend its existing sanctions surly is a proof that Japan has no compassion on humanitarian issues, stingy, and no interest to reduce tension with its neighbours.

Comparing Japan’s atrocity it carried out in the Korea peninsula before 1945, abducting few Japanese is like child play; just making compensation for the damages Japan done to Korea during the years of colonization, Japan should give out aids without questioning at all.

Oh well, this is another proof there has nothing changed to Japanese, they will never face their history honestly, they will never admit their wrong doing in the past, and “strong-stick” policy is their default choice of action.

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