Japan’s Abe seeks meet with North Korea’s Kim despite missile launch

A Tokyo resident looks at a roadside television screen reporting on North Korea’s projectile launch on August 16, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 04 October 2019

Japan’s Abe seeks meet with North Korea’s Kim despite missile launch

  • North Korea said this week it had successfully test-fired a new submarine-launched ballistic missile from the sea
  • During periods of tension, Pyongyang has threatened to rain destruction down on Japan

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday he was determined to meet North Korea’s leader to resolve the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents, maintaining an offer to talk despite the country’s missile launches.
North Korea said this week it had successfully test-fired a new submarine-launched ballistic missile from the sea, to contain external threats and bolster self-defense, ahead of fresh nuclear talks with the United States.
“I am determined to meet with Chairman Kim Jong Un face-to-face, with no preconditions, to resolve the all-important abduction issue,” Abe said in a policy speech at the beginning of a parliamentary session.
In 2002, North Korea admitted its agents had kidnapped 13 Japanese decades before. Japan says 17 of its citizens were abducted, five of whom were repatriated. North Korea has said eight are dead and another four never entered the country.
Abe has vowed to pursue the issue until all the abductees come home, despite regional tension over the North’s nuclear and missile programs.
Staunch US ally Japan and North Korea have been rivals for decades. During periods of tension, North Korea has threatened to rain destruction down on Japan, and North Korea has test-fired missiles into the seas near Japan and even over it.
“The abductees issue is core to Abe’s political identity and one of the reasons he’s got to the position he has,” said Jeff Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University’s Japan campus.
But Abe has little leverage over Pyongyang at a time when US President Donald Trump is pursuing further talks with the North Korean leader. The two sides are set to hold fresh nuclear talks on Oct. 5.
“The only role Japan will play is to bankroll whatever deal is struck,” said Brad Glosserman, deputy director of the Center for Rule-making Strategies at Tama University in Tokyo.
“In the interim, North Korea has no reason to speak to Japan and will use it as a scapegoat to pull out whenever they want.”
Japan condemned North Korea’s latest missile test on Wednesday, with Abe saying it was a violation of United Nations sanctions.
The launch was the North’s most provocative since it resumed dialogue with the United States in 2018 and a reminder from Pyongyang of the weapons capability it has been aggressively developing.
“As for the North Korean situation, we will do our utmost to secure the safety of the people, while working closely with the United States and cooperating with the international community,” Abe said in his speech.
Turning to ties with South Korea, soured by a feud over wartime labor that has spilled over into trade and security matters, Abe reiterated a call for Seoul to observe a promise to Tokyo.
Last October, South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered some Japanese firms to compensate Koreans forced to work in their mines and factories during World War Two.
Japan, which says the matter was settled by a 1965 treaty, calls the court decision a violation of international law.
“South Korea is an important neighbor. I would like to ask them to observe a promise made between nations, based on international law.”


Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

Updated 10 December 2019

Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

  • International Court of Justice seeks to address atrocities committed by Myanmar

DHAKA: Several members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar expressed optimism on Monday that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would rule in their favor once it began its three-day hearing against Myanmar on Tuesday.

The case was filed by Gambia on behalf of all Muslim nations from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with the ICJ over the alleged persecution of the Rohingya by the Myanmar military.

On Nov. 18, the court decided to hold the hearings from Dec.10 to 12. Gambia’s justice minister will lead his country during the hearings.

Both Canada and Bangladesh have been supporting Gambia by providing different data and information regarding the atrocities against the Rohingya.

Myanmar’s state councillor and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has already reached  the Netherlands to lead the defense lawyers on behalf of her country at the ICJ.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque will remain present at the courtroom to witness the process.

He will lead a 20-member team, comprising government officials and civil society representatives.

Rohingya at Cox’s Bazar are highly optimistic of securing justice at the ICJ.

“We think justice will be ensured because all international human rights groups, different UN organizations and the international community have got evidence of the persecution on the Rohingya. All of them have visited the refugee camps many times and listened to the plight of the Rohingya,” Sawyed Ullah, a community leader from Jamtoli, told Arab News.

“Also, we have strong evidences of atrocities committed by the Myanmar government to root out the Rohingya from their birth place, Rakhine,” Ullah added.

“Without ensuring accountability, there will not be any safety and justice in Rakhine. Once the accountability is restored,  all of us will be able to go back home.”

Ramjan Ali, another refugee from the Kutupalang camp, said: “Myanmar’s government has forcibly displaced the Rohingya from their own land and that compelled us to shelter here at the refugee camps. Isn’t it enough evidence to justify our allegations against the Myanmar government?”

Ramjan Ali added: “Still the situation in Rakhine is very bad as we receive information from our relatives over there. We need protection from the international forces before any repatriation, and the ICJ’s decision will be helpful for us in this regard.”

Rohingya human rights activist Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the German-based Free Rohingya Coalition described the ICJ’s move as historic.

“It is first ever since we are persecuted. We have been seeking for justice since very long time,” Lwin told Arab News, adding that “finally the case is now at the world court and although it will take several years we are now excited for provisional measures from the court.”

Lwin, along with some 200 Rohingya rights activists from around the world, is set to hold a protest rally at the Hague from Dec. 11 during the ICJ’s hearing.

“We are expecting very much from the ICJ. Regardless whether Myanmar follows the decisions of the court this will have a huge impact. There won’t be any other justice mechanisms if this international court of justice can’t ensure the justice for us,” added Lwin.

Expressing his frustration on the repatriation process, Lwin said that the Myanmar government still had a “genocidal policy” on the Rohingya.

“I don’t think repatriation of the Rohingya will take place soon unless the government is considering to fulfill our demands,” he said.

The ICJ’s final decision will hold strong significance as any decisions taken by the ICJ are binding on member states.

Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories of the Genocide Convention.