‘Shut up!’ U.N. rights envoy quits over tirade in Geneva


Japan’s human rights envoy stepped down Friday after facing criticism for screaming at a U.N. panel meeting to “shut up!” in Geneva in May, the Foreign Ministry said.

Hideaki Ueda, 68, yelled at participants in the May 22 session of the Committee against Torture, which was examining Japan’s report on adhering to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The Foreign Ministry said press secretary Kuni Sato will double as Ueda’s successor.

The gaffe took place as Ueda countered a remark by one diplomat that Japan’s criminal justice system depends on coerced confessions and is more in line with the Middle Ages.

Ueda’s rebuttal that Japan is a world leader in human rights drew guffaws from the other participants, at which point he screamed in English: “Don’t laugh! Why you are laughing? Shut up! Shut up!”

A clip was subsequently uploaded on YouTube and Kenji Hiramatsu, director general of the Foreign Policy Bureau, issued a verbal warning to Ueda, saying his remarks were “not suitable in a formal occasion,” sources said.

Ueda was appointed ambassador in charge of human rights and humanitarian affairs in 2008 after retiring from the ministry the previous year.

  • Ron NJ

    Took long enough. Someone representing Japan in international affairs should not only be more tactful but also able to ignore such (admittedly inappropriate) comments or actions and continue their statements without engaging in such childish, rude behavior. The fact that he was not immediately forced to resign paints a fairly poor picture of Japan and its perception of UN bodies if they feel that their official mouthpieces can simply tell other nations’ representatives to ‘shut up’, to say nothing of offering a fact-based rebuttal of relevant criticism if they felt such criticisms to be unfounded. Yelling ‘shut up’ doesn’t exactly have the same weight as, say, presenting evidence or facts to support one’s position – rather, if anything it weakens the case that he was presumably attempting to make, and rightly so.
    The ultimate point is that this man was an official envoy of the state, and should be held to a bar that matches such a position. That such remarks made by an envoy acting in his official capacity were tolerated by the Japanese government says a great deal about its foreign policy, especially in a culture where forced resignations and transfers of people who have blemished the public perception of their groups are so common. So many aspects of this issue really are inexcusable on every level, from the top right on down to the bottom.

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    Extraordinary incident, which exemplifies the vast gulf between how Japan is perceived internationally and how it perceives itself.

  • Digger

    I wonder which cushy job he’ll get as his “punishment”.