• Kyodo

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The U.S. State Department took up hate speech against Korean residents in Japan in its annual human rights report released Thursday, apparently reflecting Washington’s concern about the campaign against the ethnic minority in the country.

Members of ultra right-wing groups “used racially pejorative” terms in demonstrations in predominantly ethnic Korean neighborhoods in Tokyo and were accused of hate speech by the press and politicians, the report said.

The report mentioned Zaitokukai (citizens against special privileges for Zainichi) as one of such groups. Zainichi are people of Korean ancestry who have permanent resident status in Japan.

The report, titled “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013,” said senior Japanese government officials publicly repudiated the harassment of ethnic groups and reaffirmed the protection of individual rights for everyone in the country.

The growing number of hate speech rallies against permanent Korean residents drew public attention and criticism last year in Japan against a backdrop of strained bilateral ties with South Korea. “Hate speech” was among Japan’s top buzzwords in 2013.

The report said Chinese, Korean, Brazilian and Filipino permanent residents were also subject to various forms of discrimination outside legal safeguards, “including restricted access to housing, education, health care and employment opportunities.”

On North Korea, the report quoted a South Korean think tank report saying that about 80,000 to 120,000 people have been detained in five active political prison camps.

Secretary of State John Kerry told a press conference, releasing the report, that in North Korea “a U.N. Commission of Inquiry recently found clear and compelling evidence of wholesale torture and crimes against humanity.”

The report criticized China for stepping up its crackdown on people protesting at limited access to the Internet and political corruption.

It mentioned “a lack of due process in judicial proceedings” and “political control of courts and judges” as human rights problems in China among others.

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