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  Asia-Pacific
China’s Blind-Eye towards NK Refugees Noted in Tokyo
Special Contribution
By Mark Buckton
Demonstrators outside the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo

Saturday (Sept. 22, 2012) was the 51st anniversary of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, an oft-ignored UN pact aimed at preventing signatories from repatriating individuals facing torture and death in nations from which they have escaped.

Around the world in nations as far apart as Mexico and Finland, South Africa and Japan, activists associated with the North Korea Freedom Coalition marked this occasion by staging small demonstrations, showing films and making speeches – most aimed at the Chinese government’s continued disregard for said pact as the world’s most populous nation maintains a policy of repatriation of North Korean refugees to almost certain torture and death in prison camps.

In Tokyo, the first of the participating nations in which letters asking the Chinese to abide by said convention were delivered to the local embassy or consulate, a small demonstration with a handful of speeches, and the symbolic posting of a letter asking for Beijing to respect said pact were filmed by Al Jazeera television, but completely ignored by the Japanese media for whom anything to do with North Korea centers first and foremost on the issue of abductees taken from Japanese shores during the 1970s and 80s.

Mr. Kano Ando, local representative of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, fellow member, Mr. Sato along with American born expat in Japan Mr. Paul Purvis, a long time human rights specialist were all on hand to stage a brief demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in the heart of Tokyo’s plush Azabu district.

Accompanied by a handful of Japanese police, as they made their speeches to the large barred gates of the embassy bracing for an anti-China demo later in the day on the issue of the Senkaku islands dispute, the trio were seen being photographed from within the embassy and by at least one seemingly private individual in the street; a woman later shown to be a Chinese speaker.

Job done, and as symbolic as the demonstration may still be in terms of numbers and turnout in Tokyo at least, as Ando, Sato and Purvis made their way back to the nearby subway station, the same Chinese speaking woman and two men in civilian clothes who had apparently been passersby, and had stopped to watch the demo followed closely. The woman, when asked why she was still attempting to take photos of private individuals in an area several hundred meters away from the embassy denied she was Chinese in spoken Japanese; albeit with a Chinese accent.

Take from that what you will!

(look out for an in-depth report on the North Korea Freedom Coalition in The Seoul Times in the coming days)



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Mark Buckton, a Tokyo-based freelancing journalist contributes his articles to a number of world's noted newspapers including The Seoul Times.

 

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