Human Abductions, Human Trafficking

And Forced Labor

 

 

Tetsundo Iwakuni

Director-General, International Department

The Democratic Party of Japan

Member of the House of Representatives

Liberal International Conference on Human Rights and

Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats General Assembly

December 4, 2007

 

 

Dear colleagues,

 

    I would like to congratulate you on the successful holding of the Liberal International Conference on Human Rights and the General Assembly of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats.

 

    In Japan, the issue of North Korean abductions of Japanese nationals has been drawing strong public attention. Abduction differs from human trafficking, but many Japanese citizens see it as a form of human-rights abuse.

 

    On the night of May 21, 2004, when people throughout Japan were glued to their television sets in the hope of witnessing the reunion of abductees with their family members, a UNICEF international symposium was held at Tokyo International Forum in Yurakucho, Tokyo, with more than 3,000 participants, many of them young. Ms. Agnes Chan, a singer, children”Ēs rights advocate and ambassador for the Japan Committee for UNICEF, and Ms. Noriko Hama, an economic analyst, served as panelists at this symposium on protecting children from human trafficking.

 

    According to UNICEF and the International Labor Organization (ILO), four million people fall victim to human trafficking each year. Children under 18 years of age are estimated to comprise 1.2 million of this figure. Integrated into modern-day slavery, children are being traded in many parts of the world as inexpensive manpower and objects for organ-transplant trade and prostitution.

 

    In addition, the number of the forced laborers amounts as many as 12,300,000 including 9.5 million Asians. Forced labor, a grave problem alongside human trafficking, is another form of slavery, so to speak.

 

    The word ”Čslave”É is supposed to have become obsolete many years ago. However, according to British scholar Kevin Bales, modern-day slaves are conservatively estimated to number 27 million. Another activist estimates their number at 200 million.

 

    Ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and the Roman Empire were alike in that they weaved slavery in the fabrics of their respective societies. The founding fathers of the United States were forced into accepting slavery because it brought tremendous benefits to people in North America in that era.

 

    In 1863, acting under the banner of emancipation advocated by Abraham Lincoln, the Union won the Civil War in the United States. Slavery should have perished at that point, but it did not. Not only did it survive, slavery has established itself firmly in different shapes for liberalization across national borders in the name of globalism and the pursuit of mammoth capital profits. Slavery is even showing signs of growth today.

 

    Modernization brings positive changes such as improved healthcare and education. However, when financial resources are concentrated on the elite, land is used for growing cash crops for export and the poor becomes ever weaker. Parties taking advantage of slaves and workers living in a state equivalent to slavery are countries that have adopted democracy as their slogans and the giant corporate groups representative of these nations. There are concerns that the expansion of the European Union that began in May 2004 may spur this trend.

 

    We believe that as many people as possible should seriously address a situation in which child abduction in the form of human trafficking in broad daylight is spreading around the world in step with widening economic disparity, in addition to deepening their interest in the North Korean abduction issue.

    On be half of the Democratic Party of Japan, I would like to point out that Japan should play an active role in the crusade against child abduction, as it spreads in our increasingly globalizing world, as well as in the battle against organized abduction using state power.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Tetsundo Iwakuni

Director-General, International Department

The Democratic Party of Japan