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    Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a year end meeting at Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) in Tokyo December 25, 2014

    HRW Says Time for Japan to Urge Thailand to Return to Democracy

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    Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should try to convince Thailand to restore its democratic civilian rule and improve its human rights record.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should urge Thailand to improve its human rights record and restore democratic civilian rule, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Friday, two days before the Thai leader's visit to Tokyo.

    "Prime Minister Abe should emphasize Japan's deep concerns with military rule in Thailand. The Thai junta leader should be told there will be no return to business as usual until Thailand returns to democratically elected civilian rule, and respect for human rights is restored," HRW Asia director Brad Adams was quoted as saying by the organization.

    Japan has failed to advocate democracy, human rights and the rule of law in its diplomatic exchanges, but Abe should use this occasion to call on the Thai government to address a number of pressing human rights concerns, according to HRW.

    "In the eight months since the military coup, the junta has made no genuine progress toward restoring democratic rule. … The interim constitution and the draconian Martial Law of 1914 provide immunity to junta members to commit human rights violations," HRW said.

    HRW noted that the Thai National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) enforced censorship, prohibited criticizing the military in media, blocked over 200 websites, including that of HRW, citing threats to national security, and banned discussions about human rights and democracy in the universities.

    A military coup in Thailand took place on May 22, two days after Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the current prime minister, introduced martial law in the country. In the days that followed the coup, military authorities announced they were targeting national reconciliation and new elections.

    Chan-ocha, who chairs the NCPO, is expected to visit Japan from February 8 to 10 to meet Abe to discuss bolstering Japanese investment in Thailand.

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    Tags:
    human rights, democratization, coup, Human Rights Watch, Shinzo Abe, Japan, Thailand
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