North Korea does not have a great deal the Japanese want, least of all missiles and nuclear bombs, but from midnight tonight a series of new embargos will ban shellfish, mushrooms, and coal exports, the main trade Pyongyang enjoys with Japan. Ships will also be barred from using Japanese ports, cutting off the North Korean regime even more from the outside world. The measures will affect 141 million euros of annual trade, a drop in the ocean for the Japanese, but a major blow to cash-strapped North Korea. They have warned new Japanese leader Shinzo Abe they will take retaliatory steps.
North Kore’s nuclear test has triggered a bout of shuttle diplomacy by its nervous neighbours who are trying to establish a common line to take with the dictatorship. Agreement on where to go now appears closer at the UN, where the five permanent members of the Security Council may have a document to put to the assembly by Saturday. “There are some differences as in which way the language would be effective, especially in terms of providing more room for diplomatic efforts”, says China’s UN ambassador.
South Korea’s president is visiting China and has both countries say they have reached an “important” consensus on how to proceed. The pair say they are keen to get the North Koreans back to the talks table, but while Beijing will be vital in this, it is unclear just how much influence the Chinese now have with their emboldened allies.