The Nikkei Asian Review on 30 August reported that North Korea is thought to be circumventing international sanctions by smuggling products through third countries or switching cargo between ships on the high seas. Vessels suspected of illegally transporting North Korean coal entered Japanese ports at least 25 times since 2016, when an international ban on such exports took effect, highlighting a clear weakness in the global sanctions regime against the country. The 4 ships, registered in Belize, Sierra Leone and Vanuatu, are alleged to have helped smuggle about 35,000 tons of North Korean coal into South Korea via Russia; and since 10 August the ships are banned from entering South Korean ports. It says that South Korean authorities have not determined whether the crews knew they were moving North Korean coal. Despite boarding the ships, Japanese authorities were likely unable to detect any violations because its inspections focused on safety, not enforcing sanctions.