Japan is considering extending its sanctions against North Korea, with the aim of keeping pressure on Pyongyang to denuclearize and resolve its abductions of Japanese nationals, a government source said Friday.
The sanctions include a total ban on bilateral trade and forbid the entry into Japan of North Korean-registered ships and vessels that have stopped at a North Korean port.
The move comes after North Korea fired two ballistic missiles off its east coast on Thursday, the first such provocation in a year, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's Cabinet plans to approve the extension in early April before the measures expire on April 13, according to the source.
The Japanese government has been calling for close coordination with the United States and other countries in stepping up pressure on North Korea.
It is also keen to resolve the abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, an issue that has been a major obstacle along with North Korea's nuclear and missile development in normalizing relations between Tokyo and Pyongyang.
Japan launched unilateral sanctions against North Korea in 2006, banning imports from the reclusive country and the entry of affiliated vessels.
It has since expanded the scope of the sanctions with ongoing updates, such as by adding a prohibition against exports to North Korea in 2009.