News

Japanese Parliament Paves Way for Sanctions Against North Korea

Japan's parliament has passed a law that would impose sanctions on North Korea if the country's human rights situation does not improve. The action came as Japan warned North Korea that any test of a long-range ballistic missile would violate an agreement Pyonygang signed with Tokyo four years ago.

The sanctions law is the third in a series of measures aimed at pressuring North Korea on the issue of Japanese abducted by Pyongyang's agents in the 1970's and 80's.

The legislation, enacted Friday, requires Japan to impose economic sanctions on North Korea if there is no improvement in the human rights situation in the totalitarian country.

Passage of the bill came amid fresh speculation that North Korea was making final preparations to test fire a Taepodong-2 long-range ballistic missile.

Japan's top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, told reporters Friday any such launch would violate an agreement signed by Pyongyang and Tokyo in 2002.

Abe says a ballistic missile launch would directly affect Japan's national security, and that would be a violation of a declaration signed by the two countries four years ago.

In that declaration, which came during a summit meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, Pyongyang promised to continue a moratorium on missile launches.

Japan had reacted with alarm in August 1998 when North Korea test fired a medium-range missile, part of which flew over the Japanese mainland.

Some veteran North Korea watchers, such as T.W. Kang of Global Synergy Associates, do not believe Pyongyang will actually go through with a launch, because of the international condemnation it would bring.

"It's very difficult for North Korea to do something really stupid because the cost to them would be way too high. I don't subscribe to the view that the North Korean regime is totally irrational. So, I think in that sense, I'm optimistic that they will not do something really, truly extreme," said T.W. Kang.

The abduction issue is separate from concerns about Pyongyang's missile program, but it is a highly emotional one in Japan.

North Korea in 2002 admitted abducting 13 Japanese during the Cold War, to use them to school North Korean agents in Japanese language and culture.

After the summit with Mr. Koizumi, Kim Jong Il allowed five of the abductees and members of their families to return to Japan. North Korea says the other eight have died - but Japan refuses to accept that explanation, and the Japanese contend that at least three - and perhaps hundreds - of other Japanese were abducted by North Korea.

Mr. Koizumi's government has been under increasing pressure from the public to impose economic sanctions on North Korea if it doesn't provide full details about the abductees. Pyongyang has previously said it would consider any imposition of sanctions tantamount to a declaration of war.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs