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Japan; North Korea: Defectors Return to Japan

(Dec. 2, 2007) After Japan's defeat in the Second World War, Koreans who had entered Japan during the war, in many cases against their will, returned to the Korean peninsula. Those that remained in Japan immediately after 1945 could not return to South or North Korea during the Korean War (1950-53). From 1959 to 1984, 93,340 people went to North Korea from Japan, including 6,840 Japanese nationals, such as Japanese spouses of North Koreans, based on an agreement between the North Korean and the Japanese Red Cross organizations.

Recently, more North Korean defectors who had been born in Japan and returned to North Korea or who were Japanese nationals have come back to Japan to settle, bringing their families with them. It is estimated that about 150 North Korean defectors have settled in Japan. Japan enacted the Human Rights in North Korea Act in 2006, which states that the government will make an effort to support North Korean defectors. However, no concrete measures have been established yet and many of the defectors are on welfare. (Fueru "yobiyose dappoku" [Increasing "being called defectors from North Korea"], YOMIURI ONLINE, Oct. 1, 2007.)