Japan: Chinese ship captain lied about North Korea stopover

Tokyo is enforcing stricter sanctions against Pyongyang following recent provocations.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  April 4, 2016 at 2:19 PM
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TOKYO, April 4 (UPI) -- The Chinese captain of a ship that docked in Japan is in custody for not declaring a previous visit to North Korea, according to local officials.

The vessel sailing under the flag of Palau had stopped over in North Korea, but the captain had said the previous port-of-call was China, Kyodo News reported.

The Lucky Star-8 had entered a North Korean port between Jan. 29 and Feb. 1. Upon entering Rumoi, Hokkaido, the captain had falsely reported a "call to China," according to Japan press.

Rumoi's maritime security said it uncovered this fact on March 28, as Japanese authorities conducted an on-site inspection of the ship and its cargo.

The ship was manned by 15 crewmembers, all of Chinese and Vietnamese nationality. There was no cargo on board, according to local authorities.

In response to Pyongyang's provocations, Japan is enforcing a strict ban against all ships that have made stopovers in North Korea.

Japan also took steps to extend sanctions against North Korea in February.

The policies include a ban on money transfers and denial of entry to North Korean passport holders.

All North Korean vessels are to be banned from docking at Japanese ports, and third-country ships that previously visited North Korea are banned from Japan.

The sanctions undo 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.

Talks over the repatriation of remaining Japanese abductees collapsed in 2015 after North Korea denied it was holding the missing persons in custody.

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