TOKYO, March 14 (UPI) -- In a warning to ethnic Koreans with ties to the Pyongyang regime, Japan has unilaterally banned 22 individuals from re-entering Japan after visiting North Korea.
The new sanctions list follows announcements, made in February, that Tokyo would take steps to extend sanctions against the North, Kyodo News reported Monday.
The restrictions are a response to Pyongyang's nuclear test and rocket launch that includes restrictions on money transfers to North Korea.
Tokyo had said North Korea's firing of a ballistic missile poses a "direct and serious threat" to Japan that cannot be tolerated.
The movement of North Korean nationals based in Japan is to be strictly regulated, and the government is subjecting to sanctions leading officials of the pro-North General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, the Tokyo Shimbun reported.
They include Chongryon's chairman Ho Jong Man, its vice chairman Nam Seung Woo and 17 people affiliated with the Korean University in Tokyo, sources said.
Five members of a group of Korean scientists and engineers living in Japan are also on the list, but it was unclear whether the sanctioned group had confirmed ties to the North or its nuclear weapons program.
The list undoes several Tokyo initiatives that began in 2014 when the Japanese government began easing anti-Pyongyang regulations in a bid to resolve the North Korean abduction issue.
The sanctions could prevent Ho from attending the Seventh Congress of the Korean Workers' Party in May, to be held for the first time 36 years.
Japan had begun relaxing sanctions as talks progressed on the issue of Japanese missing persons in North Korean custody, but the talks collapsed in 2015.
In February, Pyongyang said it was dissolving a search committee for the missing Japanese.