Japanese Lawmaker Versus China

Rep. Nakagawa calls for release of Noguchi, NK refugees, aid workers still in prison

Japanese lawmaker Masaharu Nakagawa, member of Japan’s House of Representatives and co-founder of International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for the North Korean Refugees and Human Rights (IPCNKR), was in China March 22-25 to survey the human rights situation there, including conditions where Takayuki Noguchi, a member of this Japanese NGO, has been held in Nanning Prison since Dec. 10 last year.

Representative Nakagawa was also there to investigate the current whereabouts of the two Japan-born North Korean refugees arrested together with Noguchi.

In Beijing on March 22, Representative Nakagawa met with Mr. Liu Shaobin, Director, Japanese Division Counselor, Asian Dept. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.

During their meeting, Nakagawa asked whether the rumors are true that the two Japan-born North Korean refugees had already been sent back to North Korea. Director Shaobin neither denied nor confirmed the reports. Representative Nakagawa confirmed with Director Shaobin that the Japanese Embassy has repeatedly stated their willingness to accept the two North Korean refugees.

On March 24, Representative Nakagawa and Masanori Fuchigami, Japan’s Vice-Consul to Guangzhou, together visited Nanning where they talked with Mr. Bi Jianfeng, Deputy Director, Consular Division, Guangxi Foreign Affairs Office.

Representative Nakagawa explained to Deputy Bi the tragic circumstances of the two Japan-born North Korean refugees whom Noguchi was trying to help, and requested understanding from a humanitarian point of view.

Deputy Bi apologized that Representative Nakagawa would not be allowed to meet with Noguchi, but he took Nakagawa to the prison where Noguchi is being held. He was allowed to take pictures of the prison premises. One of his photos of the prison is posted at our website: http://www.northkoreanrefugees.com/nanningprison.htm

Meanwhile, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations has expressed interest in the serious human rights violations involved in Noguchi’s case and has offered their assistance.

On April 2, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR) and a relative of one of the two Japan-born North Korean refugees will submit a statement requesting rescue of these victims of human rights violations to the Human Rights Protection Committee of the Federation. The statement calls upon Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan, and Junko Kawaguchi, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs as concerned parties in this matter.

Also in Japan, a demonstration was held at the Chinese embassy in Tokyo on March 29, by The Society to Help Returnees to North Korea, jointly with our group, LFNKR. This demonstration was in response to reports of a hunger strike by North Korean refugees detained in Tumen, who are protesting China’s plan to repatriate them to North Korea.

A photo is posted on our website at http://www.northkoreanrefugees.com/demonstration.htm

During the demonstration, a letter addressed to President Hu Jintao of China was handed to embassy personnel. The letter requested the release of detained refugees to a third country, as well as the release of humanitarian aid workers still imprisoned in China.

Best regards from Japan,
Kenkichi Nakadaira
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees

Address: A-101, 2-2-8 Nishikata, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0024
Tel/Fax: 03-3815-8127