Japan says won't submit new UN rights motion against North Korea


Tokyo (AFP)

Japan said Wednesday it will not submit a motion against North Korea's human rights record at a UN panel for the first time in more than a decade.

The decision comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explores ways to engage North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in an effort to resolve a row over past kidnappings of Japanese nationals by Pyongyang agents.

Abe, who rose to national political fame with his hardline stance against North Korea, has toned down his rhetoric against Pyongyang as US President Donald Trump actively courts Kim, holding their second meeting earlier this month in Vietnam.

Abe is now putting more effort into meeting Kim to resolve the abduction issue.

"Having reviewed the outcome of the US-North Korea summit meeting as well as various conditions surrounding the abduction and other issues, we have decided not to submit a draft resolution on the situation of human rights in the DPRK at the current Human Rights Council being held in Geneva," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular briefing.

For the past 11 years, Japan has joined the European Union to jointly issue a motion to condemn human rights conditions in North Korea.

Tokyo believes North Korean agents kidnapped at least 17 Japanese nationals to train its spies in language and customs in the 1970s and 80s.

After years of denial, North Korea admitted in 2002 that it had taken 13 Japanese civilians.

Campaigners, however, believe the disappearance of up to 470 Japanese may be linked to North Korea.