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Wednesday, June 14, 2006
ABDUCTIONS CALLED 'STATE CRIME'
Lower House passes North sanctions bill
By MASAMI ITO
The Lower House passed a bill Tuesday for the government to take action on the abduction issue and other human rights violations by North Korea.
The bill was approved by a majority of the members of the House of Representatives, including the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc as well as the Democratic Party of Japan.
It is expected to be passed by the Upper House by the end of the week, when the Diet session officially ends.
The bill urges the government to resolve the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese, calling it a "state crime." It says there must be a thorough investigation into what happened to the abductees and the government must secure the return of those still alive.
In addition, if the government determines the human rights situation in North Korea has not improved, it can impose economic sanctions. However, a decision should be made only after the "overall international situation" has been considered.
The bill states the government will give assistance to people who flee the hermit nation.
Earlier, the ruling bloc and DPJ had submitted separate bills but agreed last Friday to create one that included the DPJ's clause on assisting defectors from North Korea.
DPJ lawmaker Hiroshi Nakai said he was pleased the provision was included.
"It is impossible to pass a bill to protect human rights violations by North Korea that excludes those who flee North Korea," Nakai said last week.
"Although most of those who flee North Korea go to South Korea or China, there are people (from Japan who resettled in ) North Korea in 1960 and 1961, their families, and others," who might ask for Tokyo's help.
"With this (bill), Japan will now be able to accept such people who flee North Korea," he said.