Japan on Friday stepped up its economic sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear and missile programmes.

“ Tokyo said it will freeze the assets of 19 additional North Korean firms working in the finance, oil and coal sectors,’’ the Japanese foreign ministry announced.

A government spokesman said the fresh sanctions are in reaction to North Korea’s recent test of a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile.

Following the missile test at the end of November, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to maximise pressure on North Korea.

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