Japan opts out of UN motion against N. Korean abuses

TOKYO • Japan has decided for the first time in years not to submit to the United Nations a joint resolution condemning North Korea's human rights abuses, given US efforts to end the North's nuclear weapons programme, Japan said.

Japan and the European Union have submitted a motion condemning North Korea's rights record to the UN every year since 2008. North Korea has repeatedly rejected accusations of rights abuses.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference yesterday: "The decision was made taking into consideration various factors comprehensively, such as results of the summit meeting between the United States and North Korea, and the situation of Japan's abduction issue."

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held their second summit last month on US demands that North Korea dismantle its nuclear programme in exchange for security guarantees and the lifting of sanctions.

But the talks in Vietnam broke down without an agreement.

Staunch US ally Japan is keeping a wary eye on the dialogue between the US and North Korea, amid concern that a deal between those old foes could lead to a scaling back of US commitments in East Asia.

Japan also worries that the crucial issue of the fate of its citizens abducted by North Korean agents will take a back seat to nuclear and missile issues in the US-North Korea talks.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Mr Trump had raised the issue of kidnapped Japanese citizens in his summit with Mr Kim.

Mr Abe has said Japan was committed to normalising diplomatic relations with North Korea, but several issues, including North Korea's kidnapping of its citizens, must be resolved first.

Tokyo believes North Korean agents kidnapped at least 17 Japanese nationals to train its spies in language and customs in the 1970s and 1980s.

After years of denial, North Korea admitted in 2002 that it had taken 13 Japanese civilians.

Campaigners believe, however, that the disappearance of up to 470 Japanese may be linked to North Korea.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2019, with the headline 'Japan opts out of UN motion against N. Korean abuses'. Subscribe