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Cablegate: Pro-North Korean Demonstration in Kobe - High Turnout But

VZCZCXRO7999
OO RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHOK #0056 0660800
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 070800Z MAR 07
FM AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0719
INFO RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 7877
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO PRIORITY 0176
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA PRIORITY 2283
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA PRIORITY 0164
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA PRIORITY 0187
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0405
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 1111

UNCLAS OSAKA KOBE 000056

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL JA KN
SUBJECT: PRO-NORTH KOREAN DEMONSTRATION IN KOBE - HIGH TURNOUT BUT
LOW IMPACT

REFS: A) NAGOYA 00013 B) 06 OSAKA KOBE 00238

1. (SBU) About 3,300 members and supporters of the pro-DPRK General
Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chosen Soren) held a noisy
but peaceful outdoor demonstration in the Higashi Yuenchi area in
Kobe on Saturday, March 3. The demonstration was billed as the
"Kinki District Convention of Koreans Living in Japan" and held
simultaneously with similar events in Tokyo and Nagoya (reftel A).


2. (SBU) Rally speakers criticized the GOJ and police for their
investigations and arrests of Chosen Soren leaders in western Japan
over tax violations and what they termed the "suppression" of ethnic
Korean schools in Kobe and Tokyo. The participants, who came from a
wide area of western Japan and Shikoku island, then marched in the
streets of downtown Kobe for several hours along an approved route.


3. (SBU) Mr. Norihiko Onari, a DPRK expert at the Public Security
Intelligence Bureau, downplayed the connection of the Kobe
demonstration to the Japan-DPRK Working Group meeting in Beijing
currently underway, since the demonstrations were planned over a
month ago. Despite the turnout, the demonstration only received
small inside coverage in two mainstream local newspapers,
underlining the decline in Chosen Soren influence following its
financial problems (reftel B) and public outrage over last year's
DPRK missile launches and nuclear test.

4. (SBU) Osaka and Kobe are home to over 22,000 ethnic North Korean
residents, the largest population concentration in Japan. Although
Chosen Soren has been absent from the public scene in western Japan
recently, the organization clearly made an effort to reverse that
trend. However, none of post's contacts believe that Chosen Soren
can reclaim influence in western Japan.

RUSSEL

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