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The Japanese government decided at a meeting on Friday to prolong
The Japanese government decided at a meeting on Friday to prolong existing sanctions against North Korea for another 12 months in the wake of a rocket launch by Pyongyang.

This is the fifth time that the sanctions, first imposed in 2006 after North Korea tested a nuclear weapon, have been extended. However, this is the first time that they have been prolonged for a year.

Japan said that it had seen no progress in either the issue of past kidnappings of its citizens by the communist regime or in talks on the dismantlement of the North's nuclear program.

"We have not seen a sincere response from North Korea on the issues of abductions, nuclear programs and missiles," Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said at a news conference.

Tokyo is also preparing to impose additional regulations that would lower to 10 million yen ($100,000) from 30 million yen ($300,000) the amount of remittances that can be sent to North Korea without informing the Japanese authorities.

Pyongyang on Sunday launched a multistage rocket that it said was carrying a communications satellite, defying pressure from the United States, Japan, South Korea and other countries, which suspect the launch was a cover for the test of a Taepodong-2 long-range missile.

On Friday, the Japanese government for the first time referred to Sunday's launch as part of a long- range missile program.

Kawamura said that the government had come to the conclusion that the launch was "linked to intercontinental ballistic missile projects, which is an infringement of [UN Security Council] resolutions."

North Korea claimed the rocket, which was launched over Japan, successfully delivered a communications satellite into orbit, but the U.S. and South Korean militaries said all three stages fell into the ocean and "no object entered orbit."

The 15-member UN Security Council convened for an emergency meeting last Sunday at Japan's request, to discuss sanctions against Pyongyang over the rocket launch, but strong opposition from Russia and China prevented the adoption of even a preliminary statement of condemnation.

Diplomatic sources from a number of delegations indicated to RIA Novosti after a UN Security Council meeting late on Thursday that the United States could be willing to soften its position and accept a nonbinding statement rather than a resolution in response to the launch.

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