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ICC Note: As Japan’s foreign minister prepares to meet with Vietnam’s foreign minister for the 10th Vietnam-Japan Cooperation Committee on September 13, human rights activists urge the Japanese foreign minister to raise human rights concerns in Vietnam. In Vietnam, those who advocate human rights and freedoms such as religion are treated as criminals and can be sentenced to prison terms.

9/11/2018 Vietnam (UCAnews) – An international human rights group has asked the foreign minister of Japan to demand that Vietnam grant its citizens political and religious freedoms when he visits this week.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, who is also the deputy prime minister, will co-host the 10th Vietnam-Japan Cooperation Committee meeting in Hanoi on Sept. 13.

Human Rights Watch urged Kono to raise critical human rights concerns with his counterpart, including limits on freedom of speech and assembly, religious restrictions, incarceration of political prisoners and violations of labor rights.

“Dissidents and human rights’ defenders have been harassed or subjected to violence at the hands of police or persons who appear to be plainclothes government agents,” the organization said.

Human Rights Watch said the communist government typically viewed those who advocate democracy and human rights as criminals threatening national security.

The watchdog said at least 130 political prisoners are behind bars. This year alone, at least 28 rights activists and bloggers have been sentenced to long prison terms.

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For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org.