Japan let ship operated by N Korea-linked firm go without probe

Japanese authorities allowed a vessel to stop in Okinawa and leave without any investigation despite knowing it was operated by a Chinese company subject to U.N. sanctions on North Korea, shipping record showed Saturday.
The vessel operated by Huaxin Shipping (Hong Kong) Ltd, which a U.N. panel said had smuggled North Korean coal, entered a port in Naha in January, according to the International Maritime Organization records obtained by Kyodo News.
Whether the ship was carrying any cargo is not known.
The Japanese authorities could not confirm Huaxin Shipping's ownership of the vessel, a Foreign Ministry official said, though an expert versed in U.N. Security Council resolutions says allowing such a ship to leave without proper probe is a clear violation of the 2017 resolution, adopted in response to Pyongyang's ballistic missile tests and which bans purchases of North Korean coal and seafood as well as hiring of the country's workers.
"Coast guards from a number of countries had confirmed Huaxin Shipping as the vessel's operator," said Katsuhisa Furukawa, a former member of a panel of experts on the U.N. Security Council sanctions.
"Nothing can excuse the fact that it was subject to asset freezing," he said.
South Korea began cracking down on Pyongyang's coal shipments to the country in August 2018, prohibiting a number of vessels used to carry coal from entering its ports. Since then, some of the ships have repeatedly come into Japan, and the Huaxin Shipping vessel in question is one of them, the records showed.

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