It was the first time a top South Korean diplomat raised the issue and criticized Japan by name at the U.N., reflecting Seoul’s toughened stance in line with Tokyo’s accelerating swing to the right.
In his keynote speech at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Yun said "wartime sexual slavery" by the Japanese Imperial Army remains a "universal human rights issue" and an "unresolved problem that is still haunting us today." He took issue with Japan's culture of "impunity," urging its political leaders to admit to its past wrongdoings and responsibilities and carry out correct history education.
He also called on North Korea to enhance its human rights record, praising a recent report by the U.N. Commission of Inquiry which detailed rampant abuses and grave living conditions there.
|South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (right) attends the U.N. Human Rights Council session in Geneva on Wednesday. (Yonhap)|
The minister stressed the need to comply with the principle of non-refoulement, which forbids repatriating victims of persecution, and to protect North Korean defectors.
He was apparently taking a swipe at China, which has long been blamed for deporting the asylum seekers, whom it calls “illegal economic migrants,” despite torture, labor camps or even death they would face back home.
During his four-day trip ending on Friday, Yun is expected to meet with top officials including Navi Pillay, U.N. high commissioner for human rights, and Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, to discuss ways to expand cooperation on human rights, humanitarian assistance and other issues, the Foreign Ministry said.
The HRC session is slated to run through March 28.
By Shin Hyon-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org)