Japan to forgo N. Korea Human rights abuse resolution

The Japanese government does not plan to submit a resolution denouncing North Korea's human rights abuse to a U.N. council in Geneva.

Background

During the 1970’s and 1980’s, a string of incidents occurred involving the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea. The Government of Japan has so far identified 17 Japanese citizens as victims of abduction. In September 2002, North Korea admitted that it had abducted Japanese citizens and apologized while promising to prevent any further recurrences. In October of that year, five abductees returned to Japan. 

North Korea’s assertions regarding the abductions issue have not provided any satisfactory account or convincing evidence, and therefore, the Government of Japan finds them unacceptable. Campaigners believe the disappearance of up to 470 Japanese may be linked to North Korea.

Analysis

Japan and the European Union have submitted a motion condemning North Korea’s rights record to the United Nations every year since 2008. For the first time in years, Japan has decided not to submit to the United Nations a joint resolution condemning North Korea's human rights abuses. 

The decision comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explores ways to engage North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in an effort to resolve a row over past kidnappings of Japanese nationals by Pyongyang agents. “The decision was made taking into consideration various factors comprehensively, such as results of the summit meeting between the United States and North Korea and the situation of Japan’s abduction issue,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

Japan worries that its crucial issue of the fate of its citizens abducted by North Korean agents will take a back seat to nuclear and missile issues in U.S.-North Korean talks. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Trump had raised the issue of kidnapped Japanese citizens in his summit with Kim.  The decision “would not hamper Japan’s effort to keep in step with the international society” and Tokyo will continue to urge Pyongyang to improve its human rights situation, Suga added.

Abe has said Japan was committed to normalising diplomatic relations with North Korea but several issues, including North Korea’s kidnapping of its citizens, must be resolved first.

Despite actively pursuing diplomacy on its nuclear program, North Korea continues to quash basic freedoms, maintaining political prison camps and strict surveillance of its citizens, a United Nations human rights investigator said.

Assessment

Our assessment is that Japan has taken this stance because Washington has drifted away from the hard-line policy of heaping pressure on the North Korean regime towards solving problems through dialogue. 

Image Courtesy - 内閣官房内閣広報室, Shinzō Abe and Donald Trump inside Akasaka Palace (2)CC BY 4.0