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Japan should resume negotiations with N. Korea to resolve abductions
Publication Date : 19-09-2013
We hope an interim report released by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea will help make progress toward resolving the abduction issue.
The commission on Tuesday announced the report concerning involuntary disappearances, including the abductions of foreign nationals, which said the UN body had obtained testimonies and information that indicate systematic human rights violations by North Korea.
Such violations continue to take place in the reclusive country and the report’s content equates these human rights transgressions to state crimes. It strictly holds North Korea’s leadership responsible for them.
The establishment of the commission was unanimously decided at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March.
Three experts, including Chairman Michael Kirby, a former Australian High Court judge, are investigating North Korea’s alleged “systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights”.
In August, the commission members visited South Korea and Japan to interview families of abductees, North Korean defectors and officials of the South Korean and Japanese governments. In public hearings held in Tokyo, these families, including parents of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted 36 years ago when she was 13 years old, provided testimony.
A video of the public hearings is posted on the commission’s website. The testimonies by Yokota’s parents and others will no doubt help deepen the awareness of people around the world of the enormity of North Korea’s acts.
To live up to expectations of those who provided testimonies, the chairman stressed that the international community needs to take action to resolve the abduction issue and that North Korea needs to provide a full explanation.
The commission will disclose its final report, which will incorporate recommendations for possible actions against Pyongyang, in March.
North Korea stonewalling
North Korea refused the commission’s request to visit and rejected any cooperation. It also responded to the testimonies by families of abductees and others with malicious slander. Pyongyang cannot refute the facts pointed out and probably finds itself with no recourse but to repeat illogical assertions.
North Korea has recently switched to a conciliatory mood with South Korea, for instance by resuming the operation of the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex and accepting South Korea’s proposal to resume reunions of families separated by the Korean War. Such moves, however, will never cancel out its human rights violations.
Eleven years have passed since North Korean leader Kim Jong Il admitted North Korean agents had abducted Japanese citizens and apologised when he met then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Due to North Korea’s uncooperative attitude, even the safety of 12 out of 17 people officially recognised by the Japanese government as having been abducted has yet to be confirmed.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe repeatedly stressed that “my mission will never be finished” until all the abductees return to this country. Japan’s position is that a comprehensive resolution of various pending matters, such as the abductions, as well as Pyongyang’s nuclear activities and missile development programme, is a precondition for normalising diplomatic relations.
The international community must step up pressure on North Korea to take action toward resolving the abduction and nuclear issues.
We urge the Japanese government to resume negotiations with Pyongyang and do its utmost to finally resolve the abduction issue while cooperating with the commission.