U.S. Bends Its Knees For the Japanese

American parents are shocked by the public ceremonial actions of John Roos, the U.S. Ambassador to the Child Abductor’s Utopia of Japan.

Kyodo News Agency reports that the U.S. envoy traveled to Niigata on Sunday, July 24 2011 to express the commitment of the United States to supporting Japan’s efforts to bring to final resolution the issue of North Korea’s abductions of 13-year-old Megumi Yokota and several others in the mid-1970’s. Roos is the second U.S.Ambassador to visit the site since 2006.  The total number of child abductions the Japanese government says took place during this period at North Korean hands is 17– the Koreans have admitted to 13. Some have returned, others have been accounted for, but there are still a couple of victims whose stories remain ambiguously unresolved for the Japanese. Since 2002, North Korea has claimed that all of the kidnapping victims have either been returned or have died. The Japanese don’t accept N. Korean assertions and want more scrutiny.

Need we remind you that the Japanese have never once returned an abducted child to the U.S. nor any other country? What aggrieves American parents in this instance  is the striking contrast in the price the U.S. pays diplomatically on behalf of the North Korea/ Japan conflict over abductions in obeisance to Japanese wishes while failing to demand a public reckoning for thousands of  children who have been abducted to Japan from the United States. Our sons and daughters evaporate from our lives into Japan at an annual rate of over 300 per year with full administrative support from the Japanese government apparatus – courts, police, the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs, etc. – And yet aside from adding his signature to a joint press statement requesting the restoration of parents’ access to their children, as the abductions have  continued at the same alarming rate the U.S. Ambassador has not publicly stated displeasure, much less a shocked conscience, nor made a demand that any of our kids be returned home. By remaining silent, the U.S. Ambassador helps to mask the crimes of the Japanese, making the Embassy and Washington complicit in the catastrophe. Privately Mr. Roos can say what he wants, but the reputation and prestige of the United States is something the U.S. Embassy refuses to risk for our children. Private diplomacy does not expose the crimes,   brings well-deserved shame on neither the Japanese nor on the U.S. for their shared complicity and dismal failure, brings no public pressure, and keeps us, the parents of kidnapped, emotionally scarred, irradiated children, from knowing too much about how little our government is engaged.

The Ambassador’s craven display came only days after a delegation of eight members of Japan’s parliament (the Diet) including Jin Matsubara,  head of a parliamentary “league for the repatriation of Japanese abductees,” and three Japanese human rights activists appeared at the National Press Club in Washington following talks with high level officials in the U.S. Department of State, most likely Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell,  Senator Jim Webb, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the Committee on Foreign Relations, and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who said, “We cannot overlook the heinous North Korean practice of abducting Japanese and South Korean citizens, and citizens of other countries.”  As this parade of protesting officials occurred in Washington, the Japanese Prime Minister stood in front of a poster of Japan’s children missing in North Korea on NHK, the Japanese national television network, for an interview on the subject. The Japanese were making a coordinated political play on both sides of the Pacific, asking that a third party, the U.S., sanction N.Korea. Perhaps the Japanese thought they were entitled to this in the surety that the H.R. 1940 promises to punish the Japanese for abducting children. The U.S., it seems, has responded via Ambassador Roos.

Jin Matsubara
Takeo Hiranuma, member of the Japanese House of Representatives (L) and Shigeo Iizuka, chairman of Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea

Shigeo Iizuka, chairman of Japan’s Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, said the Obama administration has called the abductions an “intolerable” violation of human rights, a complaint never heard from Mr. Obama for the accumulated hundreds of American abducted children in Japan. Yet,  much more is wanted from the United States. The Japanese delegation asked that humanitarian food aid to N. Korea should be withheld until the cases are resolved to Japan’s satisfaction. This request comes in light of still ongoing starvation in N. Korea today, a country in which children literally eat grass because the country cannot feed its people. While lobbying against food for the starving N. Koreans, Mr. Matsubara stated to the U.S. press, “”We can resolve the abduction issue if we make the regime of North Korea weaker and put it under maximum pressure.” This left us  wondering if a similar strategy might not work on Japan.

The self-absorption and rationalization behind this Japanese demand of the U.S. comes in the immediate wake of Operation Tomodachi,  which employed 20,000 U.S.  troops, 113 aircraft, 12 ships, and an outlay of 80 million dollars to deliver aid to the suffering Japanese people in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster which began on March 11, 2011.  The Japanese Emperor humbly expressed gratitude on behalf of Japan to Secretary of State Clinton for the aid. With our children’s abductions forever unaddressed, how authentic does that gratitude appear to be?

The U.S. State Department wants to talk to N. Korea. In the six-party talks on nuclear weapons control, the Japanese have played political, diplomatic football with child abduction. Without Japan, the talks fold; so they are leveraging the U.S. desire to contain Chinese influence and power  and manage the gradual dissolution of North Korea’s threat by making U.S. officials grovel for them in Niigata. And the American diplomatic corps appears equal to the task.

Mr. Obama has afforded the remaining Japanese victims of N. Korean abduction a high public profile by meeting with their families. Yet he has never uttered a single public word on behalf of our abducted kids nor met with any of the Americans whose families Japan has violated. We ask what it is that makes the Japanese abduction of hundreds of American children “tolerable” in contrast? The American government, sworn to protect citizens of the United States from harm emanating from abroad as well as at home, has been asked by the Japanese to return N. Korea to the status of a “terrorist” state in light of the disagreement they have over the remaining abduction cases. By this definition, Japan could be designated a terrorist state by a factor of 1000.

The U.S. Ambassador, taking his cues from the shameless lobbying of the Japanese over child abduction, has been told in a meeting with American parents of abducted children that the State Department’s public support on this issue is an insult to the American parents who have lost their kids to Japan, and he agreed that this was a fair statement. Perhaps Mr. Roos would like to let the rest of us know on whose marching orders he marched himself to Niigata to bend his knee for the worst hypocrisies of the Japanese state. We would like to make our own request of those same officials: stand up for principle, once, and demand that our children come home.

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