TOKYO - Japan on Friday toughened sanctions on Iran in response to mounting Western suspicions that Tehran plans to build nuclear weapons, following increasingly severe steps by the United States and the European Union.
It said it added around 100 Iranian groups and an individual to a blacklist that imposes asset freezes and now totals over 300 entities. It also raised the number of Iranian banks it has suspended correspondent banking relationships with to 20 from 17.
Japan's move does not include ramping up its restrictions on Iran's energy sector even after the EU laid out plans for a possible oil embargo and the US last month expanded sanctions to target companies that aid Iran's oil and petrochemical industries.
Japan is the third biggest buyer of crude oil from Iran, OPEC's second largest producer, after China and India.
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