Japan has opted out of joining the United States, Britain and others in issuing a statement to condemn China for moving to impose a national security law on Hong Kong, apparently to avoid creating friction with Beijing, officials from countries involved said Saturday.

Tokyo's decision has been received with dismay by Washington among others, underscoring the difficult balancing act Japan faces in managing its relations with the United States, its key security ally, and China, its neighbor and the world's second-largest economy.

A further rise in tension between China and the United States over the Hong Kong issue could also complicate Japan's plan to receive Chinese President Xi Jinping as a state guest. No date has been set after the visit was postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.