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Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006

Banned goods to North listed


Staff writer

The government presented a list Tuesday of 24 luxury items that will be banned from export to North Korea, hoping to deal another blow to the Kim Jong Il regime following the country's Oct. 9 nuclear test.

The list is based on U.N. Security Council resolution 1718, which calls on member states to halt North Korea-bound exports of goods related to weapons of mass destruction as well as luxury goods.

The 24 items include beef, tuna meat, caviar and its substitutes, liquor, cars, motorcycles, motorboats, yachts, watches, cameras, audio and video devices, movie and music software, jewelry, carpets and tobacco.

Kim is believed to favor such items for his personal use as well as to give away as rewards for loyalty among Pyongyang's power elite, government officials said.

"We have (chosen) goods that are likely to be used by (government and party) executives, and those they are likely to give to their subordinates," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki told a news conference.

"North Korea's leaders need to be sent a strong message from the international community" and abide by the U.N. resolution, Shiozaki said. The resolution, issued in response to the nuclear test, demands that Pyongyang abandon its atomic weapons program.

The 24 luxury items accounted for 16 percent of the 6.88 billion yen worth of goods Japan exported to North Korea in 2005, according to Shiozaki.

Government officials said the list is based in part on information gleaned from books written by Kenji Fujimoto, who worked as Kim's personal chef of Japanese cuisine from August 1987 to April 2001. Fujimoto was a close observer of the dictator's private life.

The sushi chef went to North Korea for the first time in 1982 on business and later became Kim's favorite private cook and even part of his small handful of close aides.

On one of his frequent trips to Tokyo to buy ingredients, Fujimoto decided to jump ship and not return to Pyongyang.

In his book, Fujimoto said Kim keeps control over his underlings in part by plying them with gifts that are unimaginable luxuries for ordinary poverty-stricken North Koreans. Kim's underlings are also kept under tight surveillance and face the threat of death for any betrayal, the chef wrote.

Kim keeps his immediate subordinates under control "between heaven and hell, (using) carrot and stick," wrote Fujimoto in his third book published July, titled "Kaku to Onna wo Aishita Shogun-sama" ("Dear Leader Who Loved Nuclear Arms and Women").

Fujimoto claims in the book that the financial sanctions instituted by the United States in September 2005 should have been a severe, if not fatal, blow to Kim's dictatorship because they apparently squeezed Kim's private coffers, used to buy luxury gifts from overseas.

Only with goods and money, and threats and punishment, has Kim maintained his hold over his subordinates, Fujimoto writes.

Tokyo's new export ban is expected to make it even more difficult for Kim to obtain luxury goods from overseas. Government officials said they have already coordinated with the U.S. and European Union in choosing goods to be included in their export bans.

According to Fujimoto, Kim would routinely dole out expensive gifts to underlings at dinner parties, where he listened to their reports and forced them to drink strong liquor.



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The Japan Times

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