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Members of U.N. panel on N. Korean human rights to visit Japan


Members of the U.N. special commission of inquiry into the situation of human rights in North Korea will visit Japan later this month to collect information on Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, Japanese government sources said Tuesday.

The investigative commission consisting of three experts on human rights -- Australian chairperson Michael Kirby, Indonesian special rapporteur Marzuki Darusman and Serbian member Sonja Biserko -- is arranging a visit to Japan for a few days around Aug. 27, the sources said.

The three plan to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Keiji Furuya, minister in charge of the abduction issue, and members of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, including its chief Shigeo Iizuka, according to the sources.

The commission members will visit South Korea prior to Japan to meet with defectors from North Korea. The panel's request to enter North Korea was rejected, the sources said.

The commission was set up in March by the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate a wide range of human rights issues and violations in North Korea such as freedom of expression, prison camps, torture and arbitrary detention as well as abduction of nationals of other countries.

The team is scheduled to compile an interim report in September and a final report next March, based on information to be gathered during the upcoming trip to South Korea and Japan.