Storm after Japan UN diplomat shouts 'shut up'

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's human rights envoy to the United Nations was Wednesday facing calls to quit over a video which showed him shouting at fellow diplomats to "shut up".

YouTube footage of the incident at the UN torture committee in Geneva has provoked a storm of criticism on the Internet, with demands that ambassador Hideaki Ueda be recalled to Japan.

Blogging Japanese lawyer Shinichiro Koike, who said he was at the session, explained that a representative from Mauritius had criticised Japan's justice system, which does not allow lawyers to be present during interrogation.

Mr Ueda, who appears to be not entirely at ease in English, jumps to his country's defence.

"Certainly Japan is not in the middle age," he says in the video. "We are one of the most advanced country in this field."

Mr Koike writes that this comment provoked some giggling, which cannot be heard on the video.

"Don't laugh! Why you are laughing? Shut up! Shut up!" the ambassador shouts.

"We are one of the most advanced country in this field. We are proud of it. Of course, there are still shortages of course, shortcomings.

"Every country has shortages and shortcomings, but we are trying our best to improve our situation."

Twitter user spad7u59sambaocnne says: "We should replace such an incompetent old man who is only causing harm."

Minecraftor says: "It is a problem that tax money is being used to feed a diplomat who is audacious and arrogant, who is only feeding his ego, despite his impotence."

The Tokyo Shimbun newspaper labels it a "queer incident" in its report, and notes that it comes after a series of gaffes by high-profile politicians that have upset other countries.

Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto said last month that wartime sex slavery served a "necessary" role keeping battle-stressed soldiers in line, setting off a volley of criticism from countries under Japan's rule in the 1930s and 1940s as well as from the United States.

Tokyo governor Naoki Inose apologised to the Muslim world in April after saying Islamic countries have nothing in common but Allah and "fighting with each other".

International pressure groups say Japan's criminal justice system is weighted in favour of prosecutors and relies too heavily on confessions, many of which are extracted under duress.

Campaigners say the long detentions allowed without charge - around three weeks - and the style of questioning contribute to an artificially high conviction rate of around 99 per cent.

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