(Tokyo) - The Japanese government should make ending the suffering and violence in Sudan a top priority in meetings this week with the Sudanese presidential assistant, Nafi Ali Nafi, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch has written a letter to Japan’s Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura asking him to use this official visit to press Sudan to immediately end attacks on civilians, to stop obstructing the deployment of peacekeepers, and to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court.

“There can be no trade-off between the political process, justice and saving lives right now,’’ said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Khartoum’s massive bombardment of civilians in West Darfur and its refusal to provide any accountability for grave international crimes can only damage the prospects for peace in Darfur. Japan has a chance to make a difference. ”