National / Politics

ICC eyed to condemn North's '59-'84 repatriation program

by Daisuke Kikuchi

Staff Writer

Eiko Kawasaki, an ethnic Korean woman who spent 43 years in North Korea, announced a plan Friday to file a petition with the International Criminal Court to declare Pyongyang’s postwar repatriation program a crime against humanity.

According to Kyodo News, from 1959 to 1984 about 93,000 people from Japan, including ethnic Koreans and about 1,800 Japanese wives, emigrated to North Korea.

Kawasaki said many people were lured by false promises by the North’s authorities who described Pyongyang as a “Paradise on Earth.” Kawasaki plans to file the petition in The Hague on Tuesday.

“North Korea is the worst menace in the modern world and is threatening world peace,” Kawasaki said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

She claimed the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and Ho Jong Man, chairman of Chongryon (General Association of Korean Residents in Japan), are criminally responsible for the movement. Their accountability “must be judged legally,” she said.

In 2014, the United Nations issued a report that declared the Paradise on Earth movement an inhumane act, according to Yohei Suda, a lawyer who works with Kawasaki.

The lawyer claimed that luring some 93,000 people to North Korea with false promises is a crime against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which establishes the court’s functions, jurisdiction and structure.

In January 2015, Kawasaki and fellow returnees handed a petition to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations over the Paradise on Earth movement.

Kawasaki emigrated to North Korea in 1960 when she was 17 and returned to Japan in 2004.