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Feb 9, 2:12 AM EST

Japan's parliament condemns North Korea rocket launch



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TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's parliament condemned North Korea's long-range rocket launch Tuesday, calling it a serious provocation against international peace and demanding that the communist nation immediately stop such activity.

In a resolution unanimously passed, the lower house urged the international community to work together and quickly adopt a new U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for tough new sanctions against North Korea.

The parliamentary resolution also urged Japan's government to separately impose its own sanctions against North Korea to address issues including the North's nuclear and missile programs and the abductions of Japanese citizens by the North decades ago.

"This (rocket launch) is a serious provocation that poses tremendous threat to the peace and safety of Japan and the region, as well as the international society," it said. "Japan does not tolerate this, and strongly protests against North Korea and condemn its actions."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the rocket launch "totally intolerable," and expressed an intention to impose unilateral sanctions as soon as possible. Abe's Cabinet is expected to approve the sanctions by the end of the week, Japanese media reports said.

Experts say the sanctions are expected to largely restore those Japan lifted in 2014 when North Korea pledged to reinvestigate the fate of the Japanese abductees.

Among the sanctions is a ban on North Koreans visiting Japan and a money transfer to the North. The entry ban also affects some of the ethnic Koreans in Japan holding senior positions at their de-facto embassy here.

The mild sanctions underscore Tokyo's fear that a strong reaction would damage its fragile hopes of resolving the abduction issue, experts said. They said Japan has no diplomatic ties with North Korea, and virtually no trade or other exchanges with the reclusive country, so any additional sanctions would have little impact.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

Find her work also at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/mari-yamaguchi

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