On the morning of Jun 28th, we presented Manager
Bi with a copy of the fax received from the Chinese authority,
and asked for permission to attend the session. Manager Bi told
us that the copy of the form had been transferred to Judge Huang,
and that we should inquire at the court. The representatives then
went to the court, and at the reception desk they submitted a
copy of the application they had previously sent to the Japanese
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
However, they were refused entrance to the trial.
According to the explanation we received, we had not followed
the official procedure when we applied for permission to attend.
LFNKR disagrees; we hold that all procedures were correctly followed.
Admission was restricted to Noguchi's family,
reporters, and the Japanese counselor. Other than these few people,
Manager Bi was the only other person attending the hearing. While
the group who had been refused entry waited outside the court,
a Chinese official came out with a camera, took a picture of them,
then returned into the court.
Although Noguchi appears to have lost weight,
members agree that he behaved with courage and dignity throughout
After the ruling, Noguchi was asked if he wanted
to file an appeal, and he replied, "Do I have to decide right
now?" That was the only time he displayed his disdain.
What was the problem? How could this treatment
be justified? And to what extent should the Japanese Ministry
of Foreign Affairs be held accountable for its actions during
Firstly, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
voiced no protest against the Chinese government at the first
trail session, held on a Sunday -- despite the fact that a Japanese
citizen was being prosecuted in a de-facto closed court and that
Japanese consular officials had been informed by the Chinese authorities
prior to the trial.
This should be stated clearly: the Japanese
Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the responsibility to protect
Japanese citizens in foreign countries.
Secondly, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
requested an advance list of applicants wanting to attend the
The provisions of the Chinese Criminal Procedure
Law are as follows:
Article 152: In the first instance, cases in
a People's Court shall be heard in public. However, cases involving
State secrets or private affairs of individuals shall not be heard
Article 163: In all cases, judgments shall be
Chinese authorities also demanded that a list
of trial atendees be submitted. Clearly, Chinese procedural law
does not meet widely accepted international standards. In an effort
to avoid criticism of the de-facto closed-door trial, it seems
that Chinese authorities attempted to maintain the appearance
of an open trial.
On the other hand, Japanese authorities acted
in contradiction to democratic principles by requesting the list
without even questioning or protesting the Chinese authority's
demand, a demand that virtually restricts the right to an open
trial and hearing as set forth by the Chinese Criminal Procedure
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs apparently
used the occasion to collect information on members of Life Funds
For North Korean Refugees. Both the Chinese and Japanese authorities,
therefore, may be considered the joint principal offenders in
that they interfered with and suppressed the NGO's efforts to
provide humanitarian aid.
Thirdly, those from Life Funds who applied to
attend the trial were not permitted, but people who applied personally,
as well as the press, were permitted entry. Only the Japanese
Ministry of Foreign Affairs knew that Life Funds had applied to
attend the trial through Masaharu Nakagawa, a lawmaker from the
Democratic Party of Japan. The Chinese authorities could not have
known this. Nevertheless, no one on that list was granted permission
to attend the trial.
Did the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
deliberately tell the Chinese authorities that the people on that
list were related to the Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
group when the list was submitted to Chinese authorities by the
Division for the Protection of Japanese Nationals Overseas? If
this is true, it means that the governmental authority of a nation-state
intentionally betrayed the people on the list, which was turned
in under coercion to governmental and administrative authorities
that apparently regarded the group as an enemy.
This is serious treachery against its own citizens,
and constitutes a crime. This act cannot be forgiven and should
be investigated aggressively.
Fourthly, both countries are supposed to serve
notice to each other one week prior to a trial. The Division for
the Protection of Japanese Nationals Overseas intentionally ignored
the notice, although they were asked to inform Masaharu Nakagawa
of the date of the second trial. This constitutes neglect by an
elected representative of the sovereignty of the people of Japan.
Fifthly, it should be pointed out that the case
in question involved a Japanese national who was illegally restrained
and arrested by authorities of a foreign government while he was
aiding North Korean Refugees and was susequently sentenced to
The people Noguchi was aiding are ethnic Koreans
originally from Japan, who had immigrated to North Korea under
the North Korean Repatriation Program, organized jointly by the
Japanese and North Korean Red Cross.
Junko Kawaguchi, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs,
has stated that the Japanese government will actively help former
Japanese citizens residing in China who have defected from North
Korea, as well as ethnic Koreans originally from Japan who have
escaped from North Korea. Considering this remark, it would be
natural to assume that the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
would have something to say about the sentencing of Noguchi. Otherwise,
the remarks of the Minister of Foreign Affairs must be treated
as nothing but dust in the wind.
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs should
demand that Chinese authorities release Noguchi and allow him
to return to Japan immediately, rather keeping him imprisoned
until the 9th of August 2004.