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The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (Nichibenren) said Monday it will investigate the removal of five North Korean asylum seekers by Chinese police from the Japanese Consulate General in Shenyang, China, with an eye to pressuring the government to make greater efforts to protect human rights.

Depending on the findings of a study conducted by the federation’s human rights committee, the group said it will take steps, such as issuing a recommendation or a warning, to either the Foreign Ministry or the Justice Ministry.

Probes of this kind are usually conducted at the behest of the people involved, but the committee made a unilateral decision to pursue this particular case because the asylum seekers are in no position to initiate the proceedings, the federation said, adding that its decision reflects the gravity of the May 8 incident.

It normally takes between six months and a year to submit a recommendation or warning, but the committee said it is trying to expedite its action due to the urgency of the incident.

Tokyo claims Chinese police officers entered the consulate without Japan’s consent and dragged the asylum seekers from the premises.

China has denied these allegations and claims its officers removed the five with the consulate’s permission.

The five North Koreans in question are a couple, their 2-year-old daughter, and the man’s mother and his younger brother.

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