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Group Runs Ads in S. Korean Dailies on NK Abductions

Posted June. 25, 2009 02:09,   


A group of Japanese nationals placed today full-page ads in South Korea’s three major newspapers to ask for help from South Koreans in resolving North Korea’s past abductions of Japanese nationals and human right abuses.

The Seven-member Group comprises journalists, scholars and music critics and ran the ads in the form of a letter in The Dong-A Ilbo, The Chosun Ilbo and The JoongAng Ilbo.

“We’d like to bring peace and prosperity to Northeast Asia and resolve the abduction issue simultaneously,” the ad said, urging South Korea and Japan to join hands in turning North Korea into a democratic society.

The ad features family photos of Megumi Yokota, who was kidnapped by the North at age 13 in 1977, and Yaeko Taguchi in 1978.

“Abduction, which forcefully places people under restraint, separates them from their families, and forces them to engage in evil acts, is the most egregious form of human rights violation,” it said, adding, “We must save all abductees and return them to their families.”

In April, the group also ran a full-page ad in the New York Times under the title, “Will you leave the hell called North Korea as it is?” It urged U.S. President Barack Obama to address Pyongyang’s human right abuses.

They collected the money needed to run the ads within 10 days after starting a fundraising campaign in late February.

When the ad in the New York Times got positive global attention, they decided to do the same in South Korea. Another fundraiser collected an estimated 17.2 million yen (180,000 U.S. dollars) from 1,700 Japanese.

Yoshifu Arita, one the group’s seven members, said yesterday, “We got a big boost from the government because it gave all Japanese people 12,000 yen (9.4 dollars) each to stimulate the economy.”

“As Japanese citizens, we cannot but move forward to resolve the abduction and human right issues. Such issues are the concern of not only Japan but also South Korea.”

The group was established in November 2002 after then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Pyongyang and brought five abductees home in September the same year.

In the ad run in The Dong-A Ilbo, the group identified itself as a civic organization seeking the prompt release of Japanese abductees from North Korea.

They urged international organizations, including the U.N., to help address the North’s human right abuses and require improvement of human rights when they provide humanitarian aid to the North; asked South Korea to share information with Japan on the abduction and human rights situations in the North; and proposed an investigation into the victims of kidnapping and conditions in the North’s concentration camps.

The group is also reportedly considering placing ads in major European dailies to raise global awareness of its cause.