Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and President Joe Biden will express their deep concern about human rights violations in China in a joint statement to be released after a Japan-U.S. summit next week, Japanese government sources have said.

The summit, scheduled for Friday in Washington, comes as the Biden administration ramps up criticism of China’s treatment of the Muslim Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang region and actions concerning Hong Kong. Suga has said those issues must be addressed based on basic human rights principles.

It would be rare for Japanese and U.S. leaders to single out human rights issues in China in a joint statement. Tokyo and Washington are now arranging the wording of the planned statement.

It is almost certain that China would express strong protest against such a statement as interference in its domestic affairs.

While the United States and Europe have imposed sanctions on China over the Uyghur issue, Japan remains cautious about following suit. Suga will likely brief Biden on Tokyo’s stance in the meeting.

They are also expected to agree on the importance of ensuring peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, where tensions are rising.

Suga has underscored the need for Japan and the United States to cooperate to maintain deterrence and create an environment where Taiwan and China can resolve their differences peacefully.

As part of increased vigilance against China’s maritime assertiveness, the joint statement will also affirm the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea fall under the scope of a Japan-U.S. security treaty, according to the sources.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 response and the state of vaccinations, at the White House in Washington last month. | DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 response and the state of vaccinations, at the White House in Washington last month. | DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES

Suga and Biden are expected to make clear Article 5 of the 1960 security treaty, which states the United States will defend territories under Japan’s administration from armed attack, applies to the group of islets.

The uninhabited islands are controlled by Japan but claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu and frequently sends coast guard ships nearby to assert its ownership.

On climate change, which Suga has mentioned as a top agenda item, the two leaders are likely to share their resolve to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, putting greater pressure on China, a major greenhouse gas emitter.

In order to promote decarbonization efforts in developing countries, Tokyo and Washington are considering offering clean energy technology and financial aid, the sources said.

The U.S. is also asking Japan to set ambitious targets for greenhouse gas emission cuts, a Japanese government source said. If Tokyo accepts the request, it may face criticism from the business community.

On the economic front, Japan hopes to work with the United States to diversify procurement and supply channels for key items, such as semiconductors, rare-earth minerals and pharmaceutical products, to reduce their dependence on China.

Tokyo and Washington recognize the importance of the issue especially after the coronavirus pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in global supply chains.

The envisaged joint documents are also expected to include cooperation over artificial intelligence and 5G superfast wireless communications technology.

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