On May 5, in New York City, the Government of Japan held the INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM on Human Rights Violations, including Abductions by North Korea. Last year, momentum began to build for improving the human rights situation in North Korea.
The international community expressed its concerns through the publication of a COI report, the adoption of strong, groundbreaking resolutions by the UN Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly, and the first formal UN Security Council meeting on the human rights situation in North Korea, during which the abduction issue was raised. In response,
Japan, which has been leading international discussion on North Korean human rights issues, held this symposium to maintain and strengthen international momentum and play a more important role in the movement this year.
1. INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM on Human Rights Violations, including Abductions by North Korea
Time: May 5, 2015 (Tuesday) 10:00 am—12:00 pm
Venue: HOTEL ONE UN NEW YORK (NYC)
Minister in Charge of the Abduction Issue, GoJ (Keynote Speaker)
Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the DPRK (Keynote Speaker)
Vice Secretary-General of the Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea
younger brother of Ms. Megumi YOKOTA, abductee
younger sister of Ms. Miho YAMAMOTO, who disappeared in Yamanashi, Japan, in 1984
North Korean defector resident in Japan
North Korean defector resident in the United States
Robert R. KING
U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights
Member of the House of Representatives
Acting Chairman of the Association of Members of the Parliament for Victims Kidnapped by North Korea
Total: 8 speakers Attendees:
About 150 people including officials of the United Nations, various countries’ officials of the Mission to the United Nations, members of NGOs, and members of the media
(1) At the beginning of the symposium, Minister Yamatani made a keynote speech in English to convey the tragedy of the North Korean abduction issue, and to express the continuous policy of contributing to efforts to steadily follow up the COI report as well as the UN resolutions based on said report in close collaboration with the international community.
(2) Special Rapporteur Marzuki Darusman introduced his latest report to the UN Human Rights Council, saying that it was focused on “strategies concerning international abductions, enforced disappearances and related matters,” and expressed his understanding that it would be necessary for the international community including the United Nations to be committed to dealing with international abductions, enforced disappearance including Japanese people.
(3) Mr. Takuya Yokota and Ms. Misa Morimoto asked for understanding of feelings of the families who suddenly lost their relatives, and called for punishment of the North Korean leader by referring to the International Criminal Court and influence on international public opinion toward solving the issues.
(4) The two North Korean defectors expressed their views that North Korea should accept an on-site inspection regarding the human rights situation, and called for the importance of economic sanctions by the United Nations.
(5) Special Envoy Robert R. KING expressed his opinions that the United States has no tolerance for human rights issues including abductions and compulsory acquisitions by North Korea, and that abduction issues are international human rights issues, not only between Japan and North Korea, and also that North Korea should address human rights issues itself. In addition, he expressed the intention of the United States to continue to address the abductions of Japanese citizens in cooperation with Japan.
(6) Acting Chairman of the Association of Members of the Parliament for Victims Kidnapped by North Korea Shu Watanabe introduced efforts taken by the Federation, and urged North Korea to return abductees to Japan immediately.
(7) In the question and answer session after the above speeches, many remarks and questions were made by participants including Secretary General of the Association of Members of the Parliament for Victims Kidnapped by North Korea Tsukada, Chair of NARKN Nishioka, and Chairman of ICMJPRNK Araki about prospects for tightening sanctions against North Korea by the United States, reasons for the abductions by North Korea, outlook on efforts to be taken by the United Nations, etc.
2. The GoJ also held a poster session with 46 panels at the same time within the same hotel regarding abductions by North Korea and the efforts made by the GoJ, NARKN, and ICMJPRNK.
Keynote Speech by Eriko YAMATANI, the Minister of State for the Abduction Issue (English)
Keynote Speech by Eriko YAMATANI, the Minister of State for the Abduction Issue (Japanese)