Japan pledges not to assist N. Korean defectors

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Japan pledges not to assist N. Korean defectors

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TOKYO - The Japanese government has submitted a pledge to the Chinese government that it will not protect North Korean defectors fleeing to Japanese consulates in China anymore, the Yomiuri Shinbum reported yesterday.

Accepting the request from China, Japan signed a pledge early this year that it “won’t bring North Korean defectors into the Japanese consulates from outside, out of respect for Chinese domestic law.” The Yomiuri Shinbum said that Japan “actually abandoned its protection of North Korean defectors in China due to pressure from the Chinese government taking care of the North Korean regime.”

Between 2008 and 2009, five North Korean defectors entered the Japanese consulate in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, where they stayed until this past May. But the Chinese government did not authorize them to leave the country, labeling them “illegal migrants” and keeping them in the consulate for two years and eight months.

In order to break the deadlock, Japan told China that it would “be cautious” in dealing with defectors in response to China’s demand to withdraw the protection. However, China’s public security authorities were unsatisfied with the answer.

Finally, Japan submitted the pledge early this year and then the defectors were allowed to depart for Japan in May. Since the Japanese government enacted a law to protect the human rights of North Koreans in 2006, it has accepted nearly 200 defectors from the communist country so far. However, after it signed the pledge, there have been difficulties in allowing more, according to the Yomiuri Shinbum.


By Seo Seung-wook [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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