|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-first General Assembly
6th Meeting (PM)
General committee recommends against inclusion of new agenda item
on ‘contemporary forms of xenophobia’
The General Committee this afternoon recommended against a request by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to include on the General Assembly’s current agenda an additional item on contemporary forms of xenophobia, to address what it believed to be the “inhumane acts” of Japanese authorities over the past year, which had entered a “reckless and hideous phase” of discrimination and flagrant violation of international human rights norms and regulations.
Addressing the Committee ahead of its decision, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s representative said his delegation had made the request to redress the current “harsh repression” of Koreans in Japan. Japanese authorities were creating a “terror-ridden atmosphere” reminiscent of operations for hunting Koreans in the wake of the September 1923 Kanto earthquake, when Japan declared martial law and Japanese policemen and armed bands had hunted and murdered some 6,000 Koreans in the Kanto district alone.
Today, “evil-minded” phone calls and e-mails were being constantly directed at Korean schools, organizations and families in Japan. Threatening, among other things: “We will strike you with Molotov cocktails,” and “We will kill you all, go back to Korea.” Japanese public security authorities had also mobilized hundreds of heavily armed policemen and even armed vehicles many times since the early part of the year to carry out search operations against the facilities related to the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), including offices of Chongryon branches, as well as Korean schools and homes.
Referring to events described in a letter to the President of the Assembly (document A/61/236), he said that, on 25 April 2007, Japanese authorities, led by 300 policemen, had carried out a “forcible search” of a Korean printing house in Tokyo, while deploying 15 large armoured buses and 42 patrol cars to the scene. This had created “fear all around”, and the policemen threatened to handcuff anyone disobeying them for obstructing the execution of official duties. They had also “kicked and struck” Koreans who had been protesting the search. The four-hour search by such a large force against a small institution constituted “barbarous violence which can in no way be tolerated”.
He said that Japanese authorities had gone even further, forcing the Chongryon to sell the hall and land where its headquarters was located, “in an ill-minded attempt to exterminate Chongryon at any cost”. Japanese authorities had instructed the Japanese Resolution and Collection Corporation to impose an extremely discriminatory and unfair demand on the Chongryon, persistently turning down its sincere and reasonable proposals to redeem debts, thus unilaterally blocking all avenues for debt settlement.
All that amounted to “a wanton infringement upon the sovereignty of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which no earlier regime of Japan so dared, as it is a move to physically annihilate the centre of activities of Chongryon, which defends the democratic national rights of Koreans in Japan, and to stamp out activities of Chongryon and Koreans in Japan”. He said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could not remain unconcerned at such inhumane xenophobia, particularly since Japan had invaded other Asian countries, including Korea, and had committed a “massacre of millions of innocent people, but had since been distorting its aggressive history”.
Japan’s representative said that they were “groundless allegations” against his country. The issues he had mentioned were by no means instances of xenophobia but internal judicial, economic and other affairs of Japan. He had frankly been surprised by the mention of the earthquake, which had occurred more than 80 years ago. The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea seemed to be mixing up facts from a number of different sources.
As for the search by the police of a subsidiary of the General Association of Korean Residents, he said that, in June of 1974, two siblings in Japan had been abducted and, in that connection, some 30 years later the police investigation revealed that a person suspected in the abduction case was a member of a subsidiary of the General Association. Japanese authorities had searched such related organizations located in the Korean Press Hall -- with search warrants as required by law -- in order to collect evidence related to the case. The search had been legal and there had been no violence or threats of any kind.
Regarding the Resolution and Collection Corporation, which was an agency that had been established to collect non-performing loans of bankrupt financial institutions in Japan, he said that Democratic People’s Republic of Korea-affiliated credit unions in Japan were considered domestic financial institutions under Japanese law. Between 1997 and 2001, 16 of those institutions had declared bankruptcy due to the large numbers of non-performing loans that had been made, among others, to the General Association. During those years, because of the collapse of the country’s “bubble economy,” many financial institutions in Japan went bankrupt and a number of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea-affiliated credit unions met that same fate.
As part of its recovery efforts, the Resolution and Collection Corporation had purchased the non-performing assets of the bankrupt Democratic People’s Republic of Korea credit unions, just as it would have any other bankrupt domestic institution. Some $530 million in loans to the General Association was part of the debt and, in November 2005, the Resolution and Collection Corporation initiated a lawsuit against the General Association seeking repayment of the loans. In, June of this year, the Tokyo District Court handed down a decision calling for the repayment. The General Association did not appeal that judgement to a higher court. He added that, up to the time the judgement had been delivered, the Resolution and Collection Corporation had continued consultations with the General Association.
On charges of maltreatment of Koreans in Japan, he said that the Japanese Government had taken measures to enable Korean residents to lead stable lives and had tried to realize a society free of discrimination of any kind. Japan was also against the request because it did not meet the requirement under General Assembly rule of procedure 15, which required that items added to the agenda be “of an important and urgent character”.
There was no urgency in the proposal, he said. At the same time, he noted, for the past two years the Assembly had adopted resolutions on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and that country had not taken any positive measures to improve that situation, nor had it accepted the Special Rapporteur charged with monitoring human rights there. “We have been debating those urgent human rights issues in the Third Committee,” he said, adding that that Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) was the appropriate forum to debate such issues. The Assembly should avoid duplication of its work.
When delegations took the floor to comment on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s request, the speakers echoed Japan’s assertion that the bid did not meet the requirements of the Assembly’s rules of procedure. They also stressed that, in light of ongoing efforts to streamline the Assembly’s work as part of the overall United Nations reform process, adding an item on racial discrimination and xenophobia to the Assembly’s agenda would be a duplication of work mandated to, and being discussed by, the Third Committee. Several speakers called on the two sides to engage in serious dialogue and consultations on the basis of mutual understanding to help resolve the issues.
Also speaking were the representatives of the Netherlands, Zimbabwe, France, United Kingdom, Costa Rica, Chile, Estonia, Colombia, China, Indonesia, Liechtenstein and Cameroon.
The General Committee will meet again at a time and date to be announced.
* *** *For information media • not an official record