Japan asks China to cut labour from North Korea

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN News Desk) - China is a major host country of North Korean workers, along with Russia.

Japan has asked China through diplomatic channels several times since April to restrict its acceptance of North Korean workers, according to Japanese government officials.

It is said that the incomes of workers dispatched by Pyongyang to other countries are a source of funds for North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs.

The United States has called on other countries to stop accepting North Korean workers and is closely watching to see how China responds.

The Japanese government made its request after telephone talks between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump on April 6 about the North Korea situation.

During the talks, the two leaders shared the view that China’s suspension of coal imports from North Korea alone will not be enough to make Pyongyang stop its nuclear and missile development.

Kenji Kanasugi, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, met with Wu Dawei, then China’s special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, in Japan on April 26.

At the meeting, Kanasugi asked Wu to take action toward restricting China’s acceptance of North Korean workers. He also requested that China restrict crude oil exports to North Korea.

Shotaro Yachi, secretary general of the National Security Secretariat, met with Yang Jiechi, a state councilor and top official in diplomacy in the Chinese government, on May 29. Yachi made similar requests to Yang, whose status is equivalent to deputy premier.

China is a major host country of North Korean workers, along with Russia.

According to a 2015 U.N. report, the more than 50,000 workers North Korea dispatched to at least 17 countries — including China, Russia, Mongolia and Poland — earned US$1.2 billion to US$2.3 billion (about ¥133 billion to about ¥255 billion) that year.

At a press conference in June, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on other countries to stop accepting North Korean workers.

China, which relies on low-cost labor from North Korea, has been reluctant to restrict its acceptance of North Korean workers.

According to the sources, both Wu and Yang were reluctant toward Japan’s request.

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