Lawyers Look Into China’s Illegal Jailing of Japanese Citizen

Human Rights Protection Committee Receives LFNKR Statement

On 2 April 2004, our group, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR), submitted to the Human Rights Protection Committee of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations a statement urgently calling for the rescue of victims of human rights violations.

Immediately afterward, we called a press conference at the Bar Association’s Meeting Hall in Tokyo. Speakers at the press conference included three lawyers, Japanese Diet member Masaharu Nakagawa, who visited China last week to investigate human rights violations, and Hiroshi Kato, General-Secretary of LFNKR.

The parties to the statement submitted are a relative of one of the Japan-born North Korean refugees now imprisoned by China, and also LFNKR. This statement explains in legal terms why the arrest of these two North Korean refugees and Takayuki Noguchi (a member of our NGO) is illegitimate. The statement points out that the Japanese government is obliged to protect the human rights of its people; it urges the government to call on Chinese authorities immediately to release Noguchi and never to repatriate the two refugees. A total of 14 lawyers represent the parties to this statement.

Representative Nakagawa is co-founder of the International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for the North Korean Refugees and Human Rights. He pointed out to Ms. Junko Kawaguchi, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, who plans to visit China from Apr. 3, that Noguchi’s case should be handled from the aspect of International Law. Japan, he told her, should urge China, which is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Refugees, immediately to release Noguchi and the two North Korean refugees, since Chinese domestic laws are superseded by International law.

Representative Nakagawa was deeply disappointed by the Minister’s response.

“Mr. Noguchi,” Minister Kawaguchi said, “has violated the Chinese laws, so that we have no other option but to ask for their forgiveness.” Clearly, there has been no growth in the basic attitude of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

LFNKR now feels it is imperative to raise public awareness of Noguchi’s case and its impact internationally on human rights and humanitarian issues. This group will, therefore, be dispatching its members to as many relevant rallies and conferences as possible. The first of these is the upcoming Congressional-Executive Commission on China to be held on April 19 in Washington DC. Next will be the North Korea Freedom Day rally on April 28 in Washington DC.

LFNKR also plans to hold its own international conference during the second week of May. Details will be announced soon.

Since news of Takayuki Noguchi’s arrest began filtering out to the West, many friends from his 7 years in the United States have expressed deep concern and shown an active interest in helping win his freedom. LFNKR is pleased to see the growing number of American citizens and others around the world joining the efforts to release Noguchi.

Kenkichi Nakadaira
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
A-101, 2-2-8 Nishikata, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0024
Tel/Fax 03-3815-8127