North Korean defectors in Tokyo symbolically summoned Kim Jong Un to court Thursday over a repatriation program they call “state kidnapping”.
The show mainly targeted ethnic Koreans but also their Japanese wives, drawn by fantastic propaganda promising a “paradise on Earth”.
Five participants in the repatriation program who later escaped from North Korea are seeking 100 million yen ($ 880,000) each in damages as they argue their case in Tokyo District Court.
They accused Pyongyang of “deceiving the plaintiffs with false advertisements into settling in North Korea”, where “the enjoyment of human rights was generally impossible.”
“We don’t expect North Korea to accept a ruling or pay damages,” Kenji Fukuda, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said in a briefing last month.
“But we hope that the Japanese government will be able to negotiate with North Korea” if the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, he added.
The Japanese government has also backed the program, with the media touting it as a humanitarian campaign for Koreans struggling to build a life in Japan.
During the colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula by Tokyo from 1910 to 1945, millions of Koreans settled in Japan, either voluntarily or against their will.
When Japan surrendered, hundreds of thousands remained, reluctant to return to their devastated homeland.
They were stripped of their Japanese nationality and become stateless, and many believed propaganda films depicting idyllic life in North Korea.
Part of the defectors’ complaint concerns the separation from their families still trapped in the isolated country.
“I don’t know what happened to my family. Maybe the coronavirus hit them, maybe some of them starved to death,” Eiko Kawasaki, one of the five complainants.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by DAILYNEWSCATCH staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)