TOKYO, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Japan police arrested an ethnic Korean businessman for exporting food and clothing to North Korea – an early sign Tokyo is serious about cracking down on all trade with the Kim Jong Un regime.
The suspect, a 48-year-old with the surname Kim, operates a trading company in Tokyo, Kyodo News reported.
According to Japanese authorities, Kim did not hold an export license but sent more than $56,000 worth of goods to the North that ranged from medicine, food and clothing in January 2014.
Police said the company would ship the containers from the Port of Tokyo, then transfer the goods at a third country, Singapore, to a ship that was bound for North Korea, adding they had searched and seized documents that held proof of logistics.
In a separate investigation, police searched and seized the economic branch of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, a political organization run by members affiliated with the regime in Pyongyang.
Japan has banned trade with North Korea since June 2009, and recently tightened restrictions against money transfers while prohibiting North Korean passport holders from gaining entry into the country.
Since sanctions have been in place, official bilateral trade between the countries has plunged from $88 million in 2003, to less than $200,000 in 2009.
North Korea's traditional allies have been less receptive to the idea of expanding sanctions against Pyongyang, fearing instability and economic collapse.
Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday Russia opposes tough sanctions and criticized the South Korean government for shutting down the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a jointly operated factory park in North Korea.
Zakahrova said any "unilateral sanctions," a reference to U.S. and South Korean bills to restrict trade, were "illegal" means to achieve political objectives.
"We will only recognize the sanctions implemented by the United Nations Security Council," the spokeswoman said, according to Yonhap.