Kawahito Hiroshi has recently critiqued a book published by professor Kang Sang Jung of Tokyo University ‘Japan’s intellectuals and Kim Jong Il-Peace with Justice in Asia’ (Kodansha Gendai Shinsho) arguing that the interpretation of the North Korean government by Kang was vague and urged for an amendment to the publication.
“Right now, North Korean and Japanese people are disputing one another over the conflict as to when the dictator’s violations against human rights would end. There are many experts and NGO affiliates who are being attacked under the dictator’s name. I cannot understand what Kang Sang Jung means by a ‘safe generation’ amidst such a tense dictatorship… Right now, there are people in North Korea who do not live a long life. Kang Sang Jung needs to open his ears and listen to the people. Also, he must apologize for his previous comments and stand up to the dictator with the North Korean-Japanese people.”
Professor Kang is a Japanese-Korean scholar known for his pro-activeness in human rights issues and teaches at one of Japan’s prestigious universities. In his recently published book, Professor Kang blatantly proclaims his support for the Korean government’s Sunshine policy.
Kawahito Hiroshi is a lawyer who teaches at Tokyo University on work-related illnesses and suicides related to excessive workloads. He is also the executive director in charge of a lawyers association which confronts abductees and human rights issues in North Korea and Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea.
“Japanese-Koreans used by Kim Jong Il to send their families to North Korea”
Kawahito has participated in an investigation which studied testimonies by Japanese-Korean victims of bombings such as the Nanking massacre. He also participates actively in society by educating students on historical warfare in North Asia via field trips to Chinese Historical Museums.
Kawahito believes that Japanese-Korean families are being kept hostage by the North Korean government. He criticizes that Japanese-Koreans are being used to send their families to North Korea by constructing a collaborative system in Japan. With a sentimental heart towards victims of Japanese abductees, Japanese-Koreans and North Korean people suffering from human rights violations, Kawahito petitions a need for ‘peaceful justice.’
Kawahito elucidated on the first half of professor Kang’s recently published controversial book. Since March, Kawahito and professor Kang have been expressing their disputes regarding North Korean democracy through a magazine.
In response to professor Kang, Mr. Kawahito said, “He stresses the fact he is a Japanese-Korean, and there are many times he acts as a spokesperson for Japanese-Koreans… However, though he speaks for the advantage of Japanese-Koreans, he also speaks rather highly of the North Korean dictator Kim’s regime which has continued to rob the lives and property of Japanese-Koreans… There has never been a time where Kang Sang Jung has severely criticized against the North Korean dictatorship for killing its people.”
Kang Sang Jung’s notion of peace was first questioned in a Japanese magazine “Shokun!” (April, 2007) which published a paper with the headline ‘Kang Sang Jung, a supporter of Kim Jong Il.’ Following, a critique was made in the ‘Shukan Asahi’ (March 30th, 2007) with the more disputes on the rise.
Kang Sang Jung, a supporter of Kim Jong Il’s regime
Regarding Kang Sang Jung’s claim on peace, Mr. Kawahito said, “It is a system which focuses on preserving the Kim Jong Il dictatorship and instilling difficulty and pain on human rights of North Korean and Japanese people” and criticized that Kang Sang Jung was a supporter of Kim Jong Il’s regime and a sophist for the protection of the dictator and nation.
Professor Kang’s paper was also published in ‘Overcoming the Japan-North Korea relationships’ (Shueisha Shinsho) in May. In the epilogue of the book, Kang expressed, ‘Criticizing the truth is not the truth. Only ideal can criticize the truth,’ and said, ‘Rather than staking on the truth of nationalism, I want to venture on North East Asia’s falsity.’
However, professor Kang’s ideologies are abstract and difficult to understand. Though professor Kang did make short remarks regarding North Korean and Japanese relations and the returning of Japanese-Koreans to North Korea, he did not speak highly on the Jochongryeon’s responsibility on the movement of returning North Koreans in Japan or the pains of the remaining families.
Kawahito argues that Kang is marking his own failure by abstracting his own claims and avoiding disputes on specific human rights issues. He asserted that the fundamental problem with Kang’s sophism was the fact that it did not address the issue of inter-relational restoration but rather that it stated not to stimulate the Kim dictatorship, argued for international press to stop petitioning on human rights and neglected the violations of human rights.
He also placed responsibility on journalists and scholars like Haruki Wada for commending antagonisms and avoiding criticisms against books such as ‘Japan’s intellectuals and Kim Jong Il.’
Kawahito said, “There are times when a dictator’s extended oppression immobilizes peoples feelings on human rights.” He explained that the first obligation experts must have regarding North Korea’s abductees and human rights issues, is to validate the truth that is occurring in Japan and the Korean Peninsula. The second is to analyze and understand the real situation in North Korea and in the case unforgivable incidents have occurred, national and the international society must reflect to see how severely infringements have been made against human rights law and explain violations of international law by developing responses.
In the books epilogue, Kawahito proposed that it may be time to end aid which supports the dictatorship and that enforcing economic sanctions may be more effective. He also said that a realistic approach may simply be to assist mass migration out of North Korea. However, he urged the need to consider economic collaborations with North Korea seriously and pushed for all measures to protect defectors.
Even in South Korea, historians and experts debate on the North Korea policy. These disputes will continue as long as the Kim Jong Il’s government maintains its power. It is time to seriously consider attitudes against Kim Jong Il’s government and whether our assistance is helping North Koreans be happy and free.