TOKYO – Japan approved easing its sanctions on North Korea on Friday in response to Pyongyang's reopening of a probe into the fate of at least a dozen Japanese allegedly abducted to the North decades ago.
The move includes lifting some travel restrictions on North Koreans, allowing port calls by North Korean ships for humanitarian purposes and restrictions on cash sent to the North. But other sanctions, including Japan's own and those under U.N. resolutions, will stay in place.
— North Korean nationals are now allowed to enter Japan, but will be screened case-by-case if a request is filed. A ban on individuals subject to the U.N sanctions remains.
— Officials of Chongryong (the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan), which serves as a de-facto North Korean embassy here, can obtain re-entry permits after traveling to North Korea.
— An advisory discouraging Japanese nationals from traveling to North Korea is no longer in place.
— North Korean-registered vessels are able to enter Japanese ports but only for humanitarian purposes.
— A ban on a North Korean passenger ferry, the Mangyongbong-92, that was the only regular direct connection to Japan, stays in place.
— Port calls are limited to pickups of food, medicine and clothing and other articles for personal use only, and shipment of large quantities is not permitted. North Korean crewmembers will not be permitted ashore without prior approval.
— Remittances to groups and companies based in North Korea do not have to be reported to the government if not exceeding 30 million yen ($300,000), the same as to other countries. Under the sanctions, reporting any remittance exceeding 3 million yen ($30,000) was compulsory.
— Those visiting North Korea can now carry cash up to 1 million yen ($10,000) without having to report it to the government, up from 100,000 yen ($1,000).
— Japan's overall trade ban on North Korea remains in place.
— Freezing of assets on individuals and entities involved in missile programs, under U.N. Security Council resolutions, stay in place.