Japan’s human rights envoy to the United Nations faced calls to quit Wednesday over a video that showed him shouting at fellow diplomats to “shut up.”
YouTube footage of the incident at the U.N. torture committee in Geneva provoked a storm of criticism on the Internet, with demands that Ambassador Hideaki Ueda be recalled to Japan.
Blogging Japanese lawyer Shinichiro Koike, who said he was at the session, explained that a representative from Mauritius had criticized Japan’s justice system for not allowing defense lawyers to be present during interrogations of criminal suspects.
Ueda, who appears to be not entirely at ease in English, jumped to his country’s defense.
“Certainly Japan is not in the Middle Age(s),” he says on the video. “We are one of the most advanced countr(ies) in this field.”
Koike wrote that Ueda’s comment provoked giggling, which cannot be heard on the video.
“Don’t laugh! Why you are laughing? Shut up! Shut up!” the ambassador shouted.
“We are one of the most advanced countr(ies) in this field. That is our proud. Of course, there are still shortages, of course, shortcomings.
“Every country has shortages and shortcomings, but we are trying our best to improve our situation.”
Twitter user spad7u59sambaocnne said: “We should replace such an incompetent old man who is only causing harm.”
Minecraftor said: “It is a problem that tax money is being used to feed a diplomat who is audacious and arrogant, who is only feeding his ego, despite his impotence.”
The newspaper Tokyo Shimbun labeled it a “queer incident” in its report, and noted it came after a series of gaffes by high-profile politicians that have upset other countries.
Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said last month Japan’s use of wartime sex slaves served a “necessary” role in keeping battle-stressed soldiers in line. His remarks set off a volley of criticism from areas under Japanese occupation in the 1930s and 1940s as well as from the United States.
Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose apologized to the Muslim world in April after saying Islamic countries have nothing in common but Allah and “fighting with each other.”
International pressure groups say Japan’s criminal justice system is weighted in favor of prosecutors and relies too heavily on confessions, many of which are extracted under duress.
Critics say the long detentions allowed despite the lack of charges being filed — around three weeks — and the style of questioning contribute to an artificially high conviction rate, of around 99 percent.