Calls for release of Noguchi,
NK refugees, aid workers still in prison
March 22-25, 2004
Japanese lawmaker Masaharu Nakagawa, member
of Japan's House of Representatives and co-founder of International
Parliamentarians' Coalition for the North Korean Refugees and
Human Rights (IPCNKR), was in China March 22-25 to survey the
human rights situation there, including conditions where Takayuki
Noguchi, a member of this Japanese NGO, has been held in Nanning
Prison since Dec. 10 last year.
Representative Nakagawa was also there to investigate
the current whereabouts of the two Japan-born North Korean refugees
arrested together with Noguchi.
In Beijing on March 22, Representative Nakagawa
met with Mr. Liu Shaobin, Director, Japanese Division Counselor,
Asian Dept. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.
During their meeting, Nakagawa asked whether
the rumors are true that the two Japan-born North Korean refugees
had already been sent back to North Korea. Director Shaobin neither
denied nor confirmed the reports. Representative Nakagawa confirmed
with Director Shaobin that the Japanese Embassy has repeatedly
stated their willingness to accept the two North Korean refugees.
On March 24, Representative Nakagawa and Masanori
Fuchigami, Japan's Vice-Consul to Guangzhou, together visited
Nanning where they talked with Mr. Bi Jianfeng, Deputy Director,
Consular Division, Guangxi Foreign Affairs Office.
Representative Nakagawa explained to Deputy
Bi the tragic circumstances of the two Japan-born North Korean
refugees whom Noguchi was trying to help, and requested understanding
from a humanitarian point of view.
Deputy Bi apologized that Representative Nakagawa
would not be allowed to meet with Noguchi, but he took Nakagawa
to the prison where Noguchi is being held. He was allowed to take
pictures of the prison premises. One of his photos of the prison
is posted at our website: http://www.northkoreanrefugees.com/nanningprison.htm
Meanwhile, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations has
expressed interest in the serious human rights violations involved
in Noguchi's case and has offered their assistance.
On April 2, Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (LFNKR)
and a relative of one of the two Japan-born North Korean refugees
will submit a statement requesting rescue of these victims of
human rights violations to the Human Rights Protection Committee
of the Federation. The statement calls upon Junichiro Koizumi,
Prime Minister of Japan, and Junko Kawaguchi, the Japanese Minister
of Foreign Affairs as concerned parties in this matter.
Also in Japan, a demonstration was held at the
Chinese embassy in Tokyo on March 29, by The Society to Help Returnees
to North Korea, jointly with our group, LFNKR. This demonstration
was in response to reports of a hunger strike by North Korean
refugees detained in Tumen, who are protesting China's plan to
repatriate them to North Korea.
A photo is posted on our website at http://www.northkoreanrefugees.com/demonstration.htm
During the demonstration, a letter addressed
to President Hu Jintao of China was handed to embassy personnel.
The letter requested the release of detained refugees to a third
country, as well as the release of humanitarian aid workers still
imprisoned in China.
Best regards from Japan,
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
Address: A-101, 2-2-8 Nishikata, Bunkyo-ku,