By Masako Miyake, SND

Photo: Japan Daily Press

Photo: Japan Daily Press

On October 29, I heard the report from the Commission of Inquiry and opinions on the issue of abducted Japanese taken to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). I had been in Niigata where Megumi Yokota and other people were taken. Many times, I passed along the place where Megumi, age 14, was abducted on her way home from the Junior High School. And I had a chance to see the sisters who were sent back with their abducted mother. So I deeply appreciate that this issue is a matter of concern at the UN.

Some countries, Australia, Canada, Britain, Switzerland, Maldives, Norway, US, Korea, Japan and Laos criticized DPRK about the abduction, political prison camps, and the treatment of the defectors. But China, Cuba, and Venezuela  had a different opinion. The keyword of the insistence of those countries was “double standard”. For example, China insisted that they are treating the defectors from DPRK “in accordance with the domestic and international law on migrants and human rights”, and the former countries criticizing China have “a more strict law on migrants.” They say there is a “double standard” in the international society and it is not fair to put the blame one specific country with a different standard.

I do not think this insistence can be justified, but I point out something we have to think about. Maybe some countries can say “we are better than that country”. And maybe those have a legal right to stand against the government and speak out their opinions. Others do not have enough securing of those rights and need the support or pressure from international society. There are stages in securing human rights, but standard should be one.

“Let the person who suggested it do it first/Let’s start with what’s close at hand.” This is an old Japanese proverb learned from China. Human rights are not achieved in any country yet. For example, how is the immigration law and its application in each country? Our effort to listen to the suffering people’s voice and support to raise it might be more persuasive when each country also struggles more for its own problems on human rights.

To read more about the abduction of Megumi Yokota, go to:


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