The panel members heard testimony from 240 witnesses including several defectors from North Korea. The commission concluded, based on the evidence, in many cases the country committed crimes against humanity.
It’s a unanimous report, it’s a report which speaks of the great wrongs that have been done to the people of North Korea, and which calls for attention from the international community.
UN investigators say political prisoners are subjected to torture, rape, and other forms of violence. They estimate the number of people in political prison camps is between 80-thousand and 120-thousand, even though leaders in Pyongyang deny their existence. The report also recognizes the abduction of foreign nationals by North Korean authorities is systematic. They believe agents may have abducted more than 200,000 people including more than 100 Japanese citizens. The commission acknowledges officials use land, naval and intelligence forces for abduction. They say operations were approved at the level of the supreme leader
Members of human rights groups in Japan welcomed the report. They held a news conference in Tokyo. Shigeru Yokota and his wife Sakie attended. Their daughter Megumi was abducted to the North in 1977 when she was only 13.
Sakie Yokota / Abductee's mother:
I think whether the UN Security Council sincerely discusses this issue and takes action is crucial. It took many years for us to see the world starting to understand the situation.
We continue to push Japanese government, as well as other key governments who sit at the Human Rights Council to adopt the very strong resolution to put this human right situation on North Korea at the Security Council.
Japanese Abduction Issue Minister, Keiji Furuya, called the report unprecedented. He said the findings are in depth. North Korean leaders have rejected the report. Their UN representative said they have been no cases of human rights abuse in the country. Investigators are now advising the UN they should refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.
In Thailand, anti-government protesters are ramping up their efforts to disrupt this weekend’s general election. They wanted a postponement, but Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra refused. Here’s NHK.
Yingluck met with members of the electoral commission. They urged her to put off the poll something that Thai constitutional court ruled would be legal. They said a fair election is unlikely given the current situation, but the prime minister didn’t agree. So the vote will go ahead. Demonstrators are vowing to stop it. Already they’ve been sabotaging absentee voting. They want Yingluck to resign because they feel her brother, exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, exerts too much influence. Protest leader and former deputy prime minister, Suthep Thaugsuban, denounced Yingluck for ignoring the will of the people.
We must continue the fight. And expand our protests to topple the Yingluck’s government.
Suthep called on demonstrators to surround the offices of security authorities. The government declared a state of emergency last week for Bangkok and the surrounding area to maintain security ahead of the election.
And now to a problem that's affecting hundreds of millions of people in Asia. More than 650 million don't have clean water to drink. A city in Japan says it has a solution. Here's NHK with the story.
Regional municipalities operate almost all the water work systems in Japan. The city of Kitakyushu in western Japan provides clean tap water to the city’s 490-thousand households. The city developed a water-purifying machine with the private company 15 years ago. Micro-organisms attached to activated carbon dissolve the pollutants. The machine is half the price of other technologies. It uses less chlorine to disinfect the water. Kitakyushu officials started promoting the technology with private firms from 2010 to emerging economies in Asia.
Kazuya Kubata, Waterworks Bureau:
Kitakyushu has a long history as a city of technology and manufacture. It's our mission to take action. That’s something we must do.
Kitakyushu officials are now turning their attention to Vietnam. Haiphong is the country’s third biggest city. Raw sewage and industrial wastewater is discharged into rivers. The river water is purified for use in tap water by adding lots of chlorine. But that combination can generate harmful substances. Citizens boil tap water for drinking and cooking. They want clean water that their children can safely drink.
I don’t feel safe using tap water. I feel uneasy. Because I have small children. But I don’t have any other choice.
Kitakyushu officials told their counterparts at the Haiphong Water Authority about their water purification technology. The Vietnamese officials liked what they saw and decided to start using the Japanese system. It went into operation last month.
The Haiphong officials based their decision on low cost of the Japanese system and the fact that it uses less chlorine. The machine succeeded in eliminating most of the pollutants.
The Japanese system has caught the attention of officials in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s biggest city.
They started testing at this month. That could lead to a deal worth almost 20 million dollars. Seven other Vietnamese cities have also asked Kitakyushu officials to do on site service.
Ho Chi Minh City water official:
Providing people safe water supply is one of our biggest goals. I hope their technology will bring us good results.
If we want to get orders from abroad. We need to go into the field with local officials, and talk with them about what needs to be done.
Kitakyushu officials have high hopes for their work in Vietnam. They hope it will encourage Japanese companies to work together to design water resource management systems and win orders from overseas clients.