In the face of criticism, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stressed the significance of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s planned state visit to Japan, saying that Tokyo and Beijing have a “substantial responsibility for peace and prosperity in the region and in the world.”
“I want to take Xi’s visit as an opportunity to clearly show people at home and abroad that the two countries are ready to fulfill that responsibility,” Abe told an Upper House plenary session Friday.
He dismissed concerns that inviting the Chinese leader as a state guest may be taken by the international community as a sign of Tokyo’s tacit acceptance of Beijing’s stance on controversial matters, including alleged human rights abuses in China’s Uighur-dominated Xinjiang region.
“Japan will say what it has to say and strongly seek a positive response from the Chinese side,” the prime minister said.
Muslim Uighurs in the region have for three years endured a sweeping crackdown by the Communist Party in an apparent bid to weaken their commitment to Islam, with towns and cities across Xinjiang surrounded by large police checkpoints that use facial recognition scanners to record people coming and going.
Up to a million or more Uighurs have been sent to camps since 2017.
Asked about the situation in Hong Kong, where anti-government protests continue, Abe stressed the importance of the “one country, two systems” framework.
“It’s important that a free and open Hong Kong continues to proper under the one country two systems framework,” he said. “Japan will call on parties concerned to seek a solution through self-restraint and peaceful discussions.”
He suggested a need for South Korea to act to correct its violation of international law on the issue of wartime labor, a cause of strained relations between Tokyo and Seoul.
On North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, Abe vowed to back the U.S. diplomatic push with the North.
“Japan will support the process between Washington and Pyongyang while persistently pursuing a completely denuclearized North Korea by fully implementing U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions,” he said.