Japan Sanctions 3 Groups and 4 Individuals for Supporting North Korea's Missile Program

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's government announced Friday it will impose sanctions against three groups and four individuals for supporting North Korea's missile and nuclear development program.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Friday that the sanctions, in tandem with the United States and South Korea, are in response to North Korea's attempted launch of a spy satellite Aug. 24 and its firing of two missiles Wednesday, as United Nations Security Council resolutions ban any North Korean launches using ballistic missile technologies.

The additional sanctions, approved during Friday's Cabinet meeting, freeze the assets of the three North Korea-based hacker groups linked to cyberattacks -- Andariel, BlueNoroff and Korea Expo Joint Venture -- as well as four individuals, three of them based in China, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

The United States imposed sanctions Thursday on two people: a North Korean and a Russian linked to a Moscow-registered firm accused of supporting the North's ballistic missile program.

Japan, the United States and South Korea have been stepping up their strategic three-way cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region to jointly deal with their shared concern of growing threats of North Korea and China.

Matsuno said Japan's government strongly calls on the North to take concrete actions to respond to Tokyo's proposal to settle the issues of abductions of Japanese nationals during the 1970s and 1980s by North Korea, along with its nuclear and missile programs.

He said relatives of the abductees are getting old and that Japan seeks talks between Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as soon as possible.

North Korea has failed twice in recent months to launch a spy satellite. The nation's National Aerospace Development Administration said it would make a third attempt in October.