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NGO Activist
Missing Since October 30

November 3, 2002

Mr. Hiroshi Kato is one of the founding members of LFNKR.

Still No Word From Hiroshi Kato

Our taskforce for freeing activist Hiroshi Kato and interpreter Masahiro Mizuta has analyzed and studied the available information and concluded that these two men are probably being illegally detained by the Chinese authorities in the Northeast area of China, probably, in or around Jilin.

We first suspected that the North Korean secret military police were involved in this matter. Judging, however, from the current international situation and the attitude of the Chinese authorities since the incident in which North Korean refugees dashed into the Spanish Embassy in March this year, we have come to believe that involvement of a North Korean agency is very unlikely.

Following the incident in March, there has been no stopping the stream of North Korean refugees running into foreign missions or delegations. This has obviously prompted the Chinese authorities to intensify their crackdown by switching from the local level to the central government level.

We know that the Chinese Authorities have been dispatching troops from the central government to Jilin, near the border. The investigative troops are led by the deputy general of the Public Security Dept. and deputy Chief of Staff of Border Guard.

Thus, it is unlikely, we believe, that the North Korean agencies would be able to work freely under such intensive monitoring by the Chinese authorities.

The Chinese authorities have replied to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs that, "No Japanese has been captured by any of the relevant Chinese authorities in or around Dalian."

We, however, recently had substantial reason to believe that the Chinese authorities were keeping Mr. Kato under surveillance in an effort to entrap him. For this reason, we have been especially careful, in our activities, to avoid the border.

Despite our efforts, it seems likely that Mr. Kato and Mr. Mizuta, the interpreter, may have been lured from the Tian- Fu Hotel in Dalian under a ruse, such as claiming that a refugee had encountered an emergency situation.

It is extremely probable that the Chinese authorities were monitoring Mr. Kato and Mr. Mizuta. Likewise, it is extremely unnatural to believe that any other organization than the Chinese authorities are involved in this.

It has already been five days since we lost contact with Mr. Kato and Mr. Mizuta, and the Chinese authorities have not yet disclosed their whereabouts. We can only think that the Chinese authorities are persecuting them for their humanitarian efforts and subverting their human rights.

This ignoring of human rights and humanity by the Chinese authorities puts into jeopardy China's position in the international community.

Furthermore, since the safety of foreign visitors to China is placed into question, this is an overwhelming reason for people around the world to boycott the Olympic Games scheduled for Beijing in 2008.

We strongly urge the Chinese authorities to disclose promptly the whereabouts of Mr. Kato and Mr. Mizuta and to release them immediately.

Kenkichi Nakadaira
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees