Japanese Cars Banned, a Fallacy?

Daily NK
Yang Jung A
7/11/2007

Earlier this year, North Korean authorities banned the importation of cars made from Japan. However, it seems that Japanese cars are still being imported into North Korea.

Moreover, due to Japan’s sanctions on North Korea which prohibits the entry of North Korean cargo ships into Japanese ports, it seems that 3rd countries’ ships are being used to import the cars.

On the 8th, the Sankei Shimbun reported, “The Japanese government placed a measure prohibiting the entry of the “Mankyungbong 92” and other North Korean ships into Japanese ports. However, North Korea is using foreign cargo ships to import second hand goods made from Japan.”

In relation to this, the Sankei Shimbun reported, “From January until June this year, a total of 13 foreign cargo ships have entered North Korea loaded with Japanese goods” and informed, “These ships come from 5 countries including Russia, China, Georgia, Cambodia and Belize, with the majority of staff Russian or Chinese.”

Further, the newspaper stated, “1,000 second hand refrigerators and hundreds of small second hand trucks have been imported into North Korea through 3rd countries’ ships.”

In particular, “Last January, a Cambodian cargo ship carrying 9,000 second hand Japanese bicycles entered North Korea and in April, a Berlize cargo ship containing 11,000 second hand Japanese bicycles entered North Korea” the newspaper reported.

The fact that North Korea has continued to import Japanese cars is a clear sign that the measure to ban all Japanese vehicles was more or less a bluff.

A number of North Korean sources revealed this month, “Authorities made an order to confiscate all Japanese made vehicles including trucks and cars until 2009, and to change all the vehicles to cars made from South Korea or China.”

A source informed “This order was notified by the secretarial department of the central authorities around February 16th, as a directive from the transportation division in the form of lectures” and said, “In Pyongyang, the city traffic security agencies are in charge of the inspections whereas in the country, the provincial traffic security agencies are in charge.”

However, the drivers and conductors of Japanese cars and trucks in North Korea question whether all the Japanese cargo vehicles will be confiscated considering they make up 95% of North Korea’s vehicles. Rather, the atmosphere tends to be leaning towards the measure diminishing away sometime in the near future.

North Korea experts speculate that the order to confiscate Japanese vehicles is an attempt to aggravate antagonisms against Japan in response to Japan’s abductees issue and progression of six party talks. Nonetheless, Japanese goods beginning with cars are used and spread widely across North Korea. In reality, it may be difficult to see any results in attempt to confiscate the vehicles.

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