Chongryon school in Kawasaki struggles to survive financially


Decline in students, government funding leads to unpaid staff, uncertain future
August 18th, 2014 Kosuke Takahashi

KAWASAKI, Japan – A pro-North Korea elementary school for Korean children in Kawasaki city, adjoining Tokyo, is struggling to survive financially due to a steep decline in students and the absence of local government subsidies.

Kang Moon Seok, 56, principal of the Kawasaki Choson Elementary School, located in the southern part of Kawasaki City in Kanagawa Prefecture, recently admitted to NK News that his school has been unable to pay its 10 teachers their salaries for two months.

gWe all canft live properly without salary,h said Kang, head of Kawasaki Choson Elementary School, one of the 71 affiliated schools of Chongryon, the pro-Pyongyang federation of Korean residents in Japan.

Kang said about 6,000 Zainichi, or ethnic Koreans in Japan, live in Kawasaki Ward alone.

This racial melting pot was created under Japanfs 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Kang said many Koreans were forced by the Japanese military regime to come to work at military establishments in Kawasaki, such as steel and shipbuilding industries, namely NKK and Hitachi Zosen, especially after Japan started the Second Sino-Japanese war in 1937.

gIn the case of Kawasaki, many Zainichi Koreans originally came from South Gyeongsang Province, located in the southeast of the current South Korea,h said Kang, a third-generation Korean resident of Japan.

gMeanwhile, as for Osaka, the most famous place with the highest concentration of Zainichi in Japan, many of them originally came from Jeju Island.h

Kang said his grandfather moved from Jeju Island to Osaka in 1937 by ship called gKimigayomaru,h then moving into Kawasaki.

Kang, who refers to North Korea as gChoson,h said many Korean residents in Japan, including his grandfather, saw Choson as the only legitimate state and South Korea as a puppet state of the United States, thus many of Zainichi chose North Korean citizenship rather than South Korean in the late 1940s and early f50s.

In the early 2000s, the school removed the portraits of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il that used to hang in classrooms because parents wanted to set aside ideology.

When this writer referred to Kim Jong Un without any honorific official titles such as gSupreme Commanderh or gFirst Secretary of the Korean Workersf Party,h Kang expressed his anger by saying gThis pisses me off, as he is the most important person to protect Choson and he has guaranteed to protect Zainichi 100 percent.h

gWe are not anti-Japanese people, but pro-Japanese people, living in Japan,h Kang said.

The inside of the Kawasaki Choson Elementary School. Kosuke Takahashi

The following are excerpts from an interview with Kang at his school in Kawasaki City.

NK News: First of all, can you briefly tell us about your school? For example, how many students are here now?

Kang: This is an elementary school. Currently, we have 58 students, that is, 44 elementary school kids and 14 kindergarten pupils. This school was reorganized from an elementary and junior high school into the current form of an elementary school in 2005 due to the diminishing number of children, etc.

We used to have about 500 students in 1960s, when I myself came to this school as a student. That was the peak. Soon after that, six students in every class went back to Choson (North Korea) on the back of the gReturn Country Campaignh (promoted by Chongryon).

The inside of the Kawasaki Choson Elementary School. Kosuke Takahashi

NK News: That was when North Korea launched a propaganda campaign, gItfs an earthly paradise.h

ckids from Christian families also come to this school

Kang: At that time, many Zainichi could not get a job in Japan, so they wanted to go back to Choson. This is the real reason.

NK News: When was this school established?

Kang: The school was established in November 1946, two years before Choson was (officially) founded in September 1948.

NK News: Who established the school at that time actually?

Kang: Choren, or the Zainichi Chosenjin Renmei (League of Korean Residents in Japan), established it. Choren was the predecessor of Chongryon.

NK News: So, do many kids from pro-North ethnic Korean families come to this school now?

Kang: Not necessarily. There are many students whose families are not Chongryon members. This is the school for Zainichi. For example, kids from Christian families also come to this school.

NK News: So, is this school nothing to do with Chongryon now?

Kang: Thatfs not true. Of course, the school is associated with it. When something wrong happens to the school, people at Chongryon would kindly help us in many ways.

NK News: Out of 58 students, how many do come from Chongryon-member families?

Kang: What do you mean by Chongryon member? You mean activists at Chongryon? Or pro-Chongryon people? Itfs hard to tell. But since Choren, Chongryonfs predecessor, established the school, we admit the school has been under the influence of Chongryon. For Choren, to establish schools for Zainichi was the most important thing at that time.

NK News: What subjects do you teach in here?

Kang: We teach Korean language, arithmetic, science, Japanese language, music, arts and crafts, health and physical education and social studies.

NK News: So you donft teach Juche ideology?

Kang: You cannot teach it to elementary students. They cannot understand.

NK News: How much is the total monthly tuition parents have to pay?

Some families such as a fatherless family cannot pay tuition at all. But we cannot press such families for payment

Kang: Everything included, that amounts to about 30,000 Japanese yen (a little less than $300) per student. In April, it runs up to 40,000 yen as parents have to buy many textbooks at the beginning of a new school term.

NK News: Thatfs very expensive.

Kang: Yes, it used to be about 15,000 yen. But now, we cannot receive any funding from Kanagawa Prefecture and Kawasaki City. Some families such as a fatherless family cannot pay tuition at all. But we cannot press such families for payment.

Our 10 teachers here have not been paid for two months. And I also could not reiceive any salary for six months at one time. This is becoming sort of volunteer work for us. We all canft live properly without salary.

NK News: What do you think of the abduction issue?

Kang: In 2002 when (North Korean leader Kim Jong Il) admitted the nation had abducted 13 Japanese citizens, such as Megumi Yokota, I was so shocked. I could not believe it. But instantly I had to think about my students. I thought the Japanese peoplefs wrath would surely turn on Zainichi. The phone was actually permanently engaged. Those phone calls said, gWe will avenge!h and gYour child will be a drowned body in the river.h Since 2002 I have always been thinking how to protect my students. I have been driven by an instinct for self-preservation.

Japan is a basis for my life

I feel very sorry for the Yokota family. But some Japanese groups are using the abduction issue for their political purposes, bringing about hate speech toward Zainichi. So, I have complicated feelings about this issue.

A book written by the parents of Megumi Yokota was there in the principal's office when I visited there on August 2. The principal said Kawasaki City government sent this book to every parent of the pro-North Korea school kids and one of those books was brought to the principal's office

NK News: Where is your national identity? What do you think of Japan as Zainichi?

Kang: I really care about Japan. I was born and grew up in Kawasaki. I had Japanese childhood friends. I have eaten the same Japanese food as you. I watched the same TV programs in childhood as you. I played the same Japanese games as you. Japan is a basis for my life.

NK News:What do you think of for the sale of the Tokyo headquarters building and land of Chongryon?

Kang: This became a big issue as it was thrown into politics. The Resolution and Collection Corp. (RCC), the government-affiliated debt collection agency, and Chongryon once reached an agreement on a sales contract. But Japanfs political intervention made this problem bigger. They are using this issue as a means of sanctions.


Pictures: Kosuke Takahashi
posted by Kosuke at 00:02| Comment(0) | NK News


North Korea gimminent threath to security – Japan defense paper


North Korea gimminent threath to security – Japan defense paper

Japan cites DPRK missile and WMD programme, contributing to "increasingly severe" security situation

August 5th, 2014@Kosuke Takahashi & Hamish MacDonald

Japan concluded that North Korea is contributing to an gincreasingly severeh security situation in Northeast Asia, an annual White Paper released on Tuesday said.

The report, which is published every summer by the Japanese Defense Ministry, said North Koreafs improving missile capabilities formed part of the increased threat towards Japan.

gThe development of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and missiles by North Korea constitutes, coupled with provocative words and actions, including missile attacks against Japan, a serious and imminent threat to the security of Japan,h the report said.

Citing North Korean state media articles from 2013 that listed Japanese cities within range of missiles attacks as evidence of ongoing and direct provocation, the report argued that gmaintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is vital for the peace and stability of the entire East Asian regionh.

The paper included an individual section on the Korean Peninsula and provided a detailed assessment of North Koreafs military capabilities., including assessments of air, ground, naval and cyber warfare units.


Significantly, the White Paper mentioned threats from North Koreafs KN-08 mobile Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) and Scud-ER (Extended Range) missiles for the first time.

The KN-08, which was showcased at military rallys in Pyongyang in April 2012 and July 2013, has a range of between 5,000-6,000km, while the Scud-ER is estimated to have a range of between 800-1000km.

Credit: Japanese Ministry of Defense

gThe KN08 is carried by a Transport Erector Launcher (TEL), making it difficult to detect signs of its launch in advance,h the paper read.

The report also refers to the 1,000km range of North Koreafs Scud-ER, which would bring parts of Japan within striking distance of the missile. However, some observers arenft sold on the Japanese Governmentfs assessment of the Scud-ER.

gUltimately I am skeptical of that 1,000km range, there seems to be very little hard data publicly supporting it,h Scott LaFoy a Washington D.C. based researcher told NK News.

Some news outlets gperhaps latched onto an early mention of 1000km, which would be necessary to strike Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and the outskirts of Tokyo,h LaFoy added.


The report made much of the fact that North Korea continues to regularly fire missiles and artillery, many off its East Coast towards Japan.

gIn both 2013 and 2014, North Korea repeatedly engaged in provocative acts, including the implication of missile launch towards Japan,h the report said, adding that the Ministry Of Defence continue to take defensive measures against such launches.

The paper reiterated Japanfs stance on North Koreafs proliferation activities, saying that the continued attempts to acquire nuclear weapons gconstitutes a serious destabilizing factor to the security not only of Japan but of the entire region and the international community.h

gNeedless to say, North Koreafs possession of nuclear weapons cannot be tolerated,h the report read.

The white paper also cautioned that further North Korean ICBM and nuclear progress might lead into a false a sense of security, leading to potential gincreases in and the escalation of military provocations by North Korea in the regionh.

The report comes as Japanfs Foreign Ministry is increasing cooperation with Pyongyang, aimed at finally resolving the issue of missing Japanese citizens.

posted by Kosuke at 00:46| Comment(0) | NK News


Japanese government denies Nikkei report on North Koreafs abduction survivor list


Japanese government denies Nikkei report on North Koreafs abduction survivor list

Expert says certain groups spreading 'disinformation' to hinder progress in Tokyo-Pyongyang talks

July 10th, 2014

Kosuke Takahashi

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Thursday denied the Nikkei newspaperfs report that Pyongyang provided to Tokyo a list of about 30 abductees and other Japanese survivors in North Korea at a July 1 meeting in Beijing.

The Japanese government on Thursday lodged a protest with the Nikkei newspaper and requested that it issue a correction.

gIfm aware of the report, but there were no facts like that at all during the meeting or during a recess,h Suga said of the article, which ran on the front page of Japanfs largest business daily on Thursday. gItfs clearly a false report.h

The list, containing triple the number of names as reported by the paper a week ago, includes confirmed victims of North Korean kidnappings taking place between 1977 and 1983. The Nikkei reported that Japan had matched two-thirds of the names with its own records as of Wednesday.

Hideshi Takesada, a Japanese expert on Korean affairs and professor at Takushoku Universityfs graduate school, said on July 8 at the Foreign Correspondentsf Club of Japan in Tokyo that some groups and some governments are intentionally dispensing misinformation on the abduction issue in order to hinder Japan-North Korea negotiations.

Takesada specifically pointed out two rumors. One is that Pyongyang and Tokyo have agreed to Kim Eun Gyongfs visit to meet her grandparents in Japan later this year. Kim is the daughter of Megumi Yokota, who was kidnapped by the North in 1977 at the age of 13. The other rumor is the Nikkeifs previous report on a list containing a double-digit number of abductees allegedly presented by North Korea to Japan.

gThey are using these disinformation tactics,h said Takesada, a former executive director of the National Institute for Defense Studies in Tokyo, the Japanese Ministry of Defensefs think-tank.

Tokyo claims North Korean agents kidnapped 17 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s: five have returned but 12 are unaccounted for. Pyongyang has admitted that its agents kidnapped 13 Japanese nationals, including Megumi Yokota. Pyongyang has claimed that eight are dead and that the other four never entered the country.

The abducted Japanese are mostly believed to have been forced to teach Japanese language and culture for agents undertaking covert operations.

There are about 470 missing Japanese who may have been abducted by North Korea agents, according to the Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North Korea, a Tokyo-based civic group.

The National Police Agency is currently investigating 860 cases of suspected abductions.

Picture: Wikimedia Commons
posted by Kosuke at 02:12| Comment(0) | NK News