• Kyodo

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Japan has asked the United Nations to make abductions by foreign institutions illegal when international regulations on coercive disappearances are drawn up in the near future, Japanese officials said Friday.

The request was apparently filed to make it clear that the abductions of Japanese nationals by North Korea between 1977 and 1983 were in violation of international law.

Japan also called on the U.N. to include a clause in the new regulation that will ensure that abductees’ children born in foreign countries return to their parents’ home countries, the officials said.

The planned international standard was originally designed to handle coercive disappearances in international disputes or by dictatorship governments. Tokyo aims to expand its scope, however, to cover the abductions by North Korea.

Shotaro Oshima, Japan’s representative in Geneva, made the proposals at the first meeting of a U.N. working group composing new international standards on the matter.

It is not yet clear whether the new regulation will be an independent international treaty or a document attached to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, they said.

In its proposals, Japan says it is necessary for the U.N. to prohibit border-crossing abductions by state organizations. Japan is also asking that all such cases be banned, regardless of victims’ nationalities or the venue of the incidents.

In addition, Japan said the question of the return of abductees’ children and compensation should also be discussed at the working group.

It also requested that the group study the possibility of retroactively applying the new regulation, the officials said.

Existing international treaties already ban torture and racial discrimination, but there is no treaty on coercive disappearances.

The U.N. Commission on Human Rights decided to establish the working group in 2002. The first meeting began Monday and is to end Jan. 17.

At a landmark summit in Pyongyang in September, North Korea acknowledged it had abducted 13 Japanese nationals, saying five of the abductees were alive while the eight others had died.

The five survivors returned to Japan in October and the Japanese government has decided not to send them back to North Korea. Pyongyang has refused to allow their North Korean-born children and the spouse of one abduction victim to travel to Japan.

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