Symbolic trial in Japan: exiles sue Kim Jong Un

Symbolic procedure in Japan
Exiles are suing Kim Jong Un

After the Korean War, Pyongyang lured many North Koreans living in Japan back home with false promises. Some manage to escape from the unjust state after relocating. They speak of “state kidnappings” and are demanding compensation from the ruler, Kim Jong Un.

A group of North Koreans in exile is taking legal action against the North Korean government in Japan. In a more symbolic step, a court in Tokyo summoned ruler Kim Jong Un. The plaintiffs accuse Pyongyang of “state kidnapping” and are demanding compensation.

The proceedings concern government return programs in which more than 90,000 people moved from Japan to North Korea between 1959 and 1984. Pyongyang is accused of luring the mostly ethnic Koreans, but also their Japanese spouses, to North Korea with propaganda from “Paradise on Earth”.

Five participants in the repatriation program, who later fled North Korea, are now demanding 100 million yen (around 760,000 euros) in damages each. “We don’t expect North Korea to accept a decision or pay the damages,” said Kenji Fukuda, plaintiff’s attorney. “But we hope that the Japanese government will be able to negotiate with North Korea.”

During the Japanese colonial rule over the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945, millions of Koreans had moved to Japan, some against their will. After World War II, many of them were largely stateless in Japan and later believed the propaganda films that showed an idyllic life in North Korea. The Japanese government also supported the program, which was touted in the media as a humanitarian action.

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