I just received mail from an old friend who has become active on the issue of North Korean refugees and I have attached the email from him. I think the Japanese have a much higher level of sensitivity with regards to North Korea since they have influenced the extreme left wing in Japan and have harbored terrorists who have highjacked Japanese planes, etc. Having said that, Japan has basically a no-immigration policy and therefore have not accepted refugees from anywhere as far as I know.
I don't think going around labeling countries as "evil" is really very smart, but addressing the North Korea issue is definitely something that should be high priority. I don't think Koreas really like or respect Japan very much and with Koizumi paying homage to war criminals, I think it will be difficult for us to get much clout on this issue. I think China and South Korea really have to work this out, but I'm definitely not on expert. In October, I will be in Beijing for the 30th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic contacts with Japan and will be in Kuala Lumpur at the WEF meeting where the Asia young leaders will be talking about Asian issues. I will try to raise the issue at both conferences and report back if I can find out anything or make any progress on this issue.
Date: Fri, 9 Aug 2002 10:50:01 -0800
Subject: IMPORTANT NK refugee issue..
If you have some time to read a bit about an important issue and maybe lend a hand, please take a look at a (still just a list of links) web page which I'm starting to build at http://www.ncafe.com/northkorea about the terrible situation of the people of North Korea's human rights.. their insane government, and the plight of the thousands of terrified and starving people who are trying to defect to other countries via China (really, the only way out of the country..) China, in want of a better thing to do, is repatriating all of them which they can catch, to North Korea.. (Not all of them are summarily executed any more, just some.. but it is still very very scary what happens to them upon return.)
So, my request to you is that you please read some of the stories of the refugees to see what they are running from. read about the situation in China and the current political situation.. And then what you do is up to you..
Here is the URL of one escapee's story that is particularly chilling.. this is the one that shocked me into attempting in my little way to help..
(No, I am not affiliated with any of these groups that are actively helping them, Christians, or whatever..etc..) I just read the stories and then I had to do something..
So why am I writing YOU? Because you are a human being who can see what is happening and care, and because you are smart and influential..
(I hope you don't feel I am spamming you.. If so, I apologize profusely.)
Important*** If some of the other countries in the area (like Japan) ***would be willing to set up refugee camps*** where some of these fleeing people could stay *in safety*, it would be a VERY good thing.
South Korea (or perhaps the US---working on that..) are the obvious ultimate destinations.. but South Korea has been at times strangely indifferent to the refugees from the North.. (they have been supporting the status quo in fear that NK would suddenly implode.. which would be expensive for them, they feel.. yes, it would be, but it is also necessary..)
Plus, it would be a way for Japan to build goodwill in an area where they could really benefit from it. I know that they have (in the past) given NK lots of food.. but the reality is that the NK government siphons off the food and precious little of it reaches the people it is meant to reach.. (Giving food aid is good, but monitoring it's distribution should be a *required* precondition of this aid.)
North Korea's people are now the 11th in the world.. (in malnutrition status..) In other words, they are starving to death.. No other countries on Earth with 99% literacy are anywhere near them...
Anyway, I know you are busy.. but this issue is really important.. Perhaps you could say a word to anyone you know who is influential enough to have some input into the government's decision-making process..
Nobody should have to live through the hell these people are going through.. It is a humanitarian nightmare comparable to the worst aspects of Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, Pol Pot's Cambodia and Mao's China.
Thanks in advance..