A pro-North Korean organization in Japan pressed Tokyo to immediately roll back sanctions on North Korea, blaming Japan for scrapping the 2014 deal between Pyongyang and Tokyo on easing sanctions.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said earlier this week that Japan is working to impose its own sanctions on North Korea for its recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch. Abe made the comments in a telephone conversation with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
The Japanese move is "an unpardonable action to create new artificial obstacles" in relations between North Korea and Japan, the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan said in an English-language statement carried by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency.
"Japan's acts will have serious impact" on the bilateral relations, the statement said, as it demanded the "immediate withdrawal of the unwarranted sanctions."
The association has been serving as a de facto embassy between Pyongyang and Tokyo, which have never established diplomatic relations.
Nam Sung-u, a senior official of the association, claimed that Japan unilaterally scrapped the Stockholm deal by slapping sanctions against North Korea.
Under the deal reached in Sweden's capital in 2014, North Korea agreed to look into again the fate of Japanese abductees. In return, Japan agreed to lift part of its sanctions on Pyongyang and give humanitarian aid to the reclusive country "at an appropriate time."
Japan denounced North Korea for its decision to halt the reinvestigation.
"It is deplorable that North Korea declared a suspension of investigations ... after unilaterally claiming that our side has nullified the Stockholm agreement," Japan's Kyodo news agency quoted Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida as telling reporters in Ottawa. He also said that Japan is not thinking about scrapping the agreement.
The abduction issue has been one of the key hurdles for diplomatic normalization between North Korea and Japan.
In 2002, then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il admitted to then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Pyongyang that the North had abducted 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s to train its spies on the Japanese language and culture.
The North at the time returned five of the abductees and claimed the other eight were dead, though Japanese officials believe that some of them may still be alive.
Source: Yonhap news