TOKYO, April 3 (UPI) -- Japan says punitive sanctions against North Korea will be extended for another year as the North Korean government prepares for a controversial rocket launch.
Just hours after Japan's top nuclear envoy Shinsuke Sugiyama announced contingency plans in preparation for North Korea's rocket launch, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's cabinet voted Tuesday to extend sanctions, which would have otherwise ended on April 13.
The Japanese government imposed punitive sanctions against North Korea in 2006 after nuclear missile tests, and has extended them ever since. The sanctions ban exports and imports from North Korea, as well as prohibit any North Korean ships from making port calls in Japan.
"We are urging [North Korea] not to do what they announced," Sugiyama told reporters Monday while in Washington to meet with U.S. officials, Yonhap News Agency reported.
South Korea says the North's rocket launch is a cover for ballistic missile tests that are banned under a U.N. resolution.