Posted March. 15, 2016 07:11,
Updated March. 15, 2016 07:14
In response to North Korea's nuclear tests and long-range missile firing early this year, the Japanese government sharply increased the number of people banned from reentry into Japan after visiting North Korea to 22 people including the chairman and vice chairman of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon).
According to Tokyo Shimbun and Kyodo News on Monday, people banned from reentry include 17 people from Chongryon, such as Chairman Heo Jong-man, Vice Chairman Nam Seung-woo, and those in Chosun University run by Chongryon. The advisor and five other members of the Science and Technology Association under Chongryon will also be banned. The Japanese government has also included scientists in the banned list aimed at blocking the transfer of nuclear and missile technology.
Japan had banned reentry of eight Chongryon leadership including Chairman Heo since 2006, but the sanctions were lifted in May 2014 at an agreement made in Stockholm when North Korea promised reexamination of kidnapped Japanese victims. Helped by the lift, Chongryon executives were able to visit North Korea in September that year in eight years to meet Kim Young Nam, North Korean Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, among others.
When sanctions resume, however, Chongryon leadership cannot participate the seventh Labor Party convention to be held for the first time in 36 years in early May. North Korea is expected to strongly protest against the recent sanction that includes Heo, who serves as its ambassador in Japan, and others in Chongryon.
In response to little progress on reexamination of kidnapped victims last year, the Japanese government has tightened pressure on the federation by arresting Heo's second son Heo Jeong for allegedly importing pine mushroom from North Korea illegally. The North had harshly criticized Japan calling it a hostile provocative act.