• Jiji


A cross-party group of Japanese lawmakers will consider sending a team of observers to Hong Kong in an effort to make sure that its Legislative Council election in September will be held in a fair manner, after China recently enforced a new security law strengthening control over the region.

The group, slated to be officially launched on Wednesday, is also expected to urge the Japanese government to relax visa requirements for Hong Kong citizens and not to assist investigations of those suspected of violating the security law, sources related to the group said.

Many fear that people opposing the security law will be barred from running in the Hong Kong legislative election by local authorities.

Former Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, a lawmaker from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and one of those who led the establishment of the group, said in an interview that it is considering assembling a monitoring team for dispatch to Hong Kong for the September election.

“The election should reflect the will of the people and must be held in a fair manner so that it can be recognized by the international society,” he said.

Nakatani, a member of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Japan’s parliament, added that the envisioned observer team will see whether the composition of voters for the functional constituencies are appropriate. Members of the Legislative Council are selected from such constituencies, which represent business sectors, and geographical constituencies.

The group of lawmakers will aim to extend the length of time Hong Kong citizens can stay in Japan without a visa and ease requirements for visas to study or work in the country, the sources said.

While Japan continues to strictly restrict travel from abroad amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, the group will propose to the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Hong Kong citizens be given entry as an emergency measure under the condition that they stay quarantined for 14 days and take polymerase chain reaction tests for the virus, according to the sources.

The parliamentary group will demand that the government reject requests for aiding in Hong Kong law-enforcement authorities’ investigations of people suspected of violating the security law and carefully consider whether investigation support requests over other charges should also be rejected, the sources said.

“It is important that we first create an environment for Hong Kong people in Japan to feel at ease while in the country,” said Shiori Yamao of opposition group Democratic Party for the People, who was also involved in the creation of the Japanese parliamentary group.

“We can effectively support (Hong Kong citizens) through flexibly applying the options available to us now,” Yamao, a Lower House member, also said.

The parliamentary group will be launched after 124 ruling bloc and opposition lawmakers from both chambers of the Diet signed an international resolution condemning China over the security law.

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