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Pro-North Korea group in Japan celebrates anniversary

Kim Jong Il's birth anniversary was observed by a pro-Pyongyang group in Japan, North Korean state media reproted Tuesday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Kim Jong Il's birth anniversary was observed by a pro-Pyongyang group in Japan, North Korean state media reproted Tuesday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 18 (UPI) -- A Japan-based organization loyal to the Kim Jong Un regime celebrated the 78th birth anniversary of deceased North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, according to Pyongyang's state media.

Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported Tuesday the celebrations took place on Saturday during a meeting of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, also known as Chongryon.

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Chongryon is one of two major organization for ethnic Korean residents of Japan. The group acts as North Korea's de facto embassy.

The association's chairman, Ho Jong Man, reportedly presided over the celebration, which included a performance of the North Korean national anthem and dance performances, according to the Rodong.

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In his statement to Chongryon members, Ho credited the late Kim Jong Il for "formalizing the revolutionary thought of the Great Leader [Kim Il Sung], and for establishing the revolutionary ideology of 'Songun'," a reference to North Korea's "military first" policy.

Ho also claimed Kim Jong Il, whose policies resulted in a catastrophic famine, "carried out the Juche feat in the '90s amid the nation's ups and downs," while "maintaining national sovereignty with the power of the leader, party and the masses amid the violent siege of imperialist coalition forces."

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The Japan-based chairman also credited Kim Jong Il for providing a source of "happiness for Korean-Japanese" and for the "bright future of successive generations" of Koreans in Japan.

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The Rodong added the celebration concluded with a chorus singing the "Song of General Kim Jong Il" at a cultural center in Tokyo.

The report of the birth anniversary celebrations comes at a time when the administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stepped back on its criticism of North Korea's human rights abuse.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement published Tuesday Tokyo has opted out of sponsoring a key resolution on North Korea in the United Nations Human Rights Council. Abe has also said he would meet with Kim Jong Un without preconditions.

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"The Japanese government's weak position only signals to Pyongyang that human rights violations can continue without consequences," said Kanae Doi, Japan director of HRW.

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