Beijing fleshes out its account of consular removal

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 12:00am

China has put forward its own version of events at the Japanese Consulate in Shenyang last Wednesday to rebut Tokyo's claim that police illegally entered the compound and removed five North Korean asylum seekers.

The war of words broke out after the Japanese Government released an investigative report on Monday insisting its diplomats had not agreed to the removal of the North Koreans. It also said one consular worker had intervened to try to stop the removal, but had been unsuccessful.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has called the intrusion a violation of the Vienna Convention. Tokyo has demanded an apology and the handover of the five North Koreans, two of whom were taken from a room inside the consulate building by police.

Xinhua yesterday published an account of the events by Huang Xingyuan, an official in charge of news and information at the Chinese Embassy in Japan, which rejected the Japanese version.

Mr Huang claimed two Chinese officers had stopped three of the five North Koreans entering the consulate. Two others gained entry after a brief scuffle.

The two officers alerted their superiors, who met Vice-Consul Ken Miyashita and three Chinese assistants at the visa section of the consulate, he said.

Mr Huang said Mr Miyashita gave permission for the senior officers to enter the consulate and remove the two North Koreans.

The asylum seekers were then taken to a police box at the gate where they were joined by the other three.

According to Mr Huang, a Japanese diplomat who was in charge of security later came to the police box and tried to speak to the North Koreans but failed due to language problems.

Mr Huang said when the police came to take the five North Koreans away, they asked the Japanese diplomat again and he gave his permission after consulting his superiors. The Japanese diplomat even allegedly thanked the officers in Chinese.

Mr Huang concluded by saying the officers had received permission from the Japanese side at each stage and that Tokyo was completely responsible for the situation.

Japanese television last week showed footage of the Chinese police officers wrestling with the three North Koreans - two women and a girl - and dragging them away.

The footage caused an uproar in Japan, with critics accusing the Japanese Foreign Ministry of acting passively over the affair.

Zhao Qizheng, director of the Information Office under the State Council, said in Tokyo on Monday that the Japanese media should remain calm and allow diplomats to resolve the problem. Mr Zhao was leading a Chinese media delegation to Japan.