[EDITORIALS]They should be ashamedBelatedly, but fortunately, China and Japan have agreed to send North Korean defectors to Seoul through a third country. The defectors entered the Japanese Consulate in Shenyang, China, but were arrested by Chinese police. But we are perplexed that Japan gave a cold shoulder to these desperate strugglers for survival. The United States also bewildered us by refusing to accept the defectors.
The way the Japanese Consulate handled the defectors is regrettable. Japan argued that the Chinese police forcefully took away the defectors, violating Japan's extraterritorial rights. But we cannot help but suspect that Japan at least acquiesced or assisted the Chinese police so that they could arrest them. Our suspicion is strengthened, not weakened, by the results of the Japanese government's fact-finding trip to the consulate, the videotape that captured the incident and the Chinese government's retort. The consulate might have carried out guidelines given by the Japanese ambassador, who reportedly asked for the expulsion of North Korean defectors if they tried to enter the embassy or consulates, as Kyodo News, a Japanese news wire reported. Japan cannot avoid blame by the international community over its handling of this incident.
The United States has emphasized the importance of human rights. That the United States did not accept the defectors is distressing. China acted cruelly by arresting the defectors, who already had entered Japan's consulate.
Countries involved in the incident tend to consider North Korean defectors as "hot potatoes," and they try to avoid them as much as possible. But such an attitude will not stop North Korean defectors from trying to enter the consulates of other countries in China. North Korean defectors think that entering foreign embassies or consulates is the only route to survival. Many international nongovernmental organizations are planning to help them in this effort.
Let's face the facts. The problem stems from North Korea, but China and South Korea have stakes in the matter. So it is rational for the global society to come up with a solution to tackle the matter smoothly. Now is better than any other time.