First Meeting of IPCNKR
Group Targets Refugee Camp
in 3rd Country for NK Defectors
Click here for list of member lawmakers from 5 nations
Report by Masaharu Nakagawa, April 16, 2003
On April 16, 2003, lawmakers from the United States, the
United Kingdom, South Korea, Mongolia and Japan gathered in
Seoul, South Korea, to hold the inaugural meeting of the
long-sought International Parliamentarians' Coalition for
North Korean Refugees and Human Rights (IPCNKR).
The major objective of IPCNKR is to establish a refugee camp
where North Korean people fleeing their own country will be
able to survive. The refugee camp should, at the minimum,
protect defectors from repatriation by Chinese or Russian
authorities to North Korea, where they face persecution or
torture in slave labor camps.
Reports put the number of refugees hiding in the border area
of China at 200,000 to 300,000. Many of these are ethnic
Koreans born in Japan.
One of my associates, Mr. Hwang Woo Yea, a Korean
legislator, has been working intensively on this issue with
other Korean lawmakers. I understand that it is not easy
for members of the Korean parliament to criticize China for
their behavior regarding the human rights issue, nor to
apply political pressure on Kim Jong-il. We, from Japan, as
well as lawmakers from the United States, the United Kingdom
and elsewhere have joined hands to support our Korean
counterparts in forming this international parliamentarian
group. Our united intention is to cause China formally to
certify the people who have defected from North Korea as
refugees and to secure their protection. The inauguration
of IPCNKR is a strong move in the right direction.
I proposed at the inaugural meeting that we organize an
international lawmakers' survey team and dispatch it to the
border area in China. The legislators from the United
States and the United Kingdom immediately agreed with my
survey team proposal. However, Mr. Hwang Woo Yea was more
hesitant, explaining, "I'm afraid that the Chinese
authorities will block us from entering China." The
responses seem to reflect the policies of the respective
nations. They requested, "Mr. Nakagawa, you take initiative
in carrying this project forward." In response I am making
preparations toward dispatching the survey team, probably in
May or June. The members also suggested that Japan would be
an appropriate candidate venue for holding the next annual
meeting. I willingly accepted the suggestion.
I am delighted that full-scale parliamentary diplomacy is
finally growing. I hope that this initiative will save the
lives of many North Korean refugees.
Member of the House of Representatives,
The Democratic Party of Japan
Masaharu Nakagawa, in January 2003, visits the border area where many North Korean Refugees flee into China.
Here the temperature was -30 degrees C at the Tumen River.