AFP - Japan's government will decide Friday on new sanctions to punish North Korea for its rocket launch, Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told reporters Monday.
"The contents of the new sanctions should be decided in the cabinet meeting on April 10," he told the briefing, a day after Pyongyang fired a long-range rocket over Japanese territory.
The chief government spokesman was asked whether Japan may not only extend but also strengthen existing sanctions -- such as banning all Japanese exports and tightening restrictions on money transfers.
"We are examining the plans, including the points you mentioned," he replied, adding that Japan was "giving thought to the discussions at the UN Security Council and in the international community."
A survey published Monday in the top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun daily showed strong support for increased sanctions, with 78 percent favouring tougher action out of 1,042 people questioned in a weekend survey.
The conservative newspaper in an editorial called Sunday's launch "a reckless and dangerous provocation" and said "we think it is reasonable to strengthen sanctions imposed on that country."
Ahead of the launch, ruling party lawmakers had proposed adding a full Japanese export ban to punitive steps Tokyo first formally imposed in 2006, when North Korea tested missiles and a nuclear bomb.
Since then Japan has halted all imports from North Korea and visits by its citizens, except in special cases, and banned port calls by its ships, including a regular ferry service to the impoverished state.
To specifically target the leaders of the isolated Pyongyang regime, Japan has also banned exports of 24 luxury products -- including caviar, beef, fatty tuna and selected high-end consumer electronics.
In line with wider UN sanctions, Japan also banned the transfer of any equipment that could be converted for military use by North Korea.
Tokyo has also tightened restrictions on money flows to the reclusive state, with transfers of 30 million yen (around 300,000 dollars) or more subject to authorisation from the Japanese government.
Prime Minister Taro Aso's conservative Liberal Democratic Party had earlier proposed tougher measures against the North if the rocket was launched.
Among the proposed new steps are a total ban on Japanese exports, an outright ban on all visits by North Korean nationals, and a lower threshold of 10 million yen for cash transfers that require government authorisation.