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Japan bans exports to NKorea

TOKYO, June 16 – Japan on Tuesday banned all exports to North Korea to punish the isolated communist state for its latest nuclear and missile tests, cabinet and trade ministry officials said.

"The cabinet has approved the total ban on exports to North Korea," said trade ministry official Masaru Yamazumi. "The ban will be effective until April 13 next year. We have expanded the ban to cover all goods."

The cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso earlier agreed on the new sanctions, an official told AFP, without specifying what those sanctions were.

Tokyo\’s latest move comes amid worries Pyongyang may conduct another nuclear test after the UN Security Council voted Friday on tougher sanctions in response to the regime\’s May 25 nuclear test and missile firings.

Japan first imposed formal bilateral sanctions on Pyongyang in 2006, after North Korea staged its first atomic test.

Tokyo has since stopped all imports from North Korea and visits by its citizens, except in special cases, and banned port calls by its ships.

To target regime leaders, Japan has also banned exports of 24 luxury products — including caviar, fatty tuna and high-end consumer electronics.

Japan\’s exports to the North totalled 792.6 million yen (8.2 million dollars) in 2008, mainly machinery and transport equipment, such as trains and vehicles, food, electronics and industrial goods, the finance ministry says.

Last month Japan also tightened a watch on money flows to North Korea, requiring that all remittances over 10 million yen be reported, lowering the limit to a third of the previous threshold.

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