On Feb. 28, 100+ riot police surrounded 2 offices affiliated with the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, a pro-DPRK organization also known as Chongryeon. The article says: "The raid came after prosecutors last week indicted Lee Soon-Gi, 49, for illegally exporting 100 second-hand personal computers to North Korea through China in 2009, officials and local media said." Although Mr. Lee is not related or affiliated with Chongryeon or any of its umbrella organizations, Japanese police and media reported as if Chongryeon supported the illegal exports of second-hand computers to DPRK.
Chongryeon, as de facto DPRK embassy, does help people who wish to travel to DPRK by providing travel certificates because there is no DPRK embassy in Japan due to the fact that there is no official diplomatic relations between DPRK and Japan. However, the Chongryeon travel agency cannot regulate what each traveler's bringing to DPRK and even when s/he brings things that are categorized as "illegal," the travel agency bears no responsibility.
Without providing any tangible evidence to prove Chongryeon's involvement in "illegal exports," Japanese police raided Chongryeon-affiliated offices. This is actually part of a series of institutionalized racism targeting Chongryeon Koreans under the name of "national security." The violence and harassment has dramatically escalated after the former DPRK leader, Kim Jong Il admitted to the abduction of thirteen Japanese civilians during the 1970s and 1980s when the-then Japanese prime minister Koizumi visited Pyong Yang on September 17, 2002.
People have often compares 9-17 with the previous year's "9-11 terrorist attacks" because of its resemblance of what followed after. Modeling Bush's rhetoric of "Us versus Them," Japan has defined itself as absolute justice who bears the rights and responsibilities to punish and correct the absolute evil, DPRK. Consequently, in a similar way Muslims, Arabs and South Asians were racialized and criminalized in the post 9-11 U.S. and elsewhere, Zainichi Koreans have become the target of skepticism, punishment and discipline by the Japanese government and society.
(photo courtesy of The Choson Shinbo)