The abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea violated Japan’s sovereignty. It was also an affront to human dignity and a serious and obvious violation of human rights and basic freedoms. The United Nations has adopted a number of resolutions concerning the human rights situation in North Korea and the abduction issue.
A resolution on human rights in North Korea was introduced in the UN General Assembly for the first time in December 2005. It expressed serious concern over the human rights situation there, including the abduction of foreign nationals, and called on North Korea to cooperate with the United Nations in improving the situation.
In December of the following year, a similar resolution was again adopted by the UN General Assembly. It stated, in addition, that the abduction issue was a matter of international concern and a violation of the human rights of citizens of other sovereign countries.
In December 2007, the same resolution was adopted again, marking the 3 consecutive years of its adoption. For the abduction issue, the resolution was reinforced by stating a strong demand for immediate return of abductees and early settlement of the abduction issue, in addition to the representation of the concerns referred to in the previous resolutions.
Prof. Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in DPRK calls on North Korea to take an effective and expeditious step toward redressing its illegal acts including the abductions of foreign nationals.
In May 2006, then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan visited the Republic of Korea and stated that North Korea needed to explain its position regarding the abduction issue, in order to alleviate the anguish of the abductees and others.
Then in October 2007 a report from the UN Secretary General on the human rights situation in North Korea was released for the first time. This report also referred to the abduction issue.
After North Korea launched missiles in July 2006, it announced that it had conducted nuclear testing in October of the same year. This prompted the United Nations Security Council to unanimously pass UNSC Resolution No. 1718, which underlined the importance of North Korea responding to the humanitarian concerns of the international community. This was an endorsement of the strong position taken by Japan. The abduction issue was clearly implied in the reference to humanitarian concerns.
Japan’s position on the abduction issue has received the support of leaders of industrialized countries at summit meetings.
For example, at the G8 Summit held in June 2007 in Heiligendamm, Germany, the Chair’s summary called for an early resolution of the issue of abductions. Ever since the 2003 G8 Summit in Evian, France, the Chair’s summary has referred to the abduction issue each year.
Governments of many countries have expressed deep concern over the abduction issue.
For example, the American government has consistently expressed its understanding and support for Japan’s position regarding this issue. When family members of an abductee visited the United States in April 2006, they testified at a hearing in the House of Representatives, and met with President Bush. The President stressed that North Korea should respect human rights and human dignity and, referring to the mother of one of the abductees, Megumi Yokota, and said, “… and must allow this mother to hug her child again.”
China and the Republic of Korea have also expressed their understanding of Japan’s position regarding this issue, and their willingness to cooperate.