UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - North Korea condemned on Friday plans by Japan to hold a summit in New York on the abduction of Japanese citizens by Pyongyang decades ago, saying the issue had been resolved and accusing Tokyo of escalating a human rights campaign against North Korea.
The denouncement of Japan’s planned Tuesday summit came a day after North Korean diplomats disrupted dissidents speaking at a U.S. and South Korean panel at the United Nations on human rights abuses in the isolated Asian state.
North Korea’s U.N. mission said the Japanese summit was part of a campaign “to deceive the people of the world by drawing attention to the so-called ‘abduction’ and ‘human rights’ issues of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea).”
Japan’s U.N. mission was not immediately available to comment on North Korea’s statement.
A U.N. commission of inquiry last year found that since 1950 North Korea had engaged in the “systematic abduction” of foreign nationals “on a large scale and as a matter of state policy.” It also detailed human rights abuses in North Korea that it said were comparable to Nazi-era atrocities.
The U.N. Security Council added the issue of human rights in North Korea to the body’s agenda in December. Pyongyang has been unusually active at the United Nations in New York and Geneva in fighting the allegations of human rights abuse.
In December too, the U.N. General Assembly urged the Security Council to consider referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court. But China, a strong ally of Pyongyang, is likely to veto any Security Council referral bid, diplomats said.
“The more the hostile forces including Japan become desperate in their attempt to smear the dignity of our people and sabotage our system under the disguise of ‘human rights issues’, the stronger our socialist system will grow,” North Korea’s U.N. mission said in a statement.
North Korea admitted in 2002 to kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens decades ago, and five of those abductees and their families later returned to Japan. North Korea said that the remaining eight were dead, but Japan has been pressing for more information.
“It has already been completely resolved long time ago,” North Korea said.
Last month Japan decided to extend sanctions on North Korea for two years in response to Pyongyang’s delay in reporting on its investigation into the abductions of Japanese citizens.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Ted Botha