• Jiji


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration faces rising pressure from in and out of Japan to join the U.S.-led diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party say that Japan should follow in the footsteps of the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada in declaring a diplomatic boycott of the Games.

Kishida plans to wait and see how other countries respond before making a decision. But calls for tough action against China, which has human rights issues, are increasing every day.

The administration is “required to show a political attitude and send out a message about the human rights situation” in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur region, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told his faction at a meeting on Thursday.

“Isn’t it the time to express Japan’s will?” Abe added, urging the government to make a decision early.

LDP members, mainly conservatives, are increasingly supporting the view that Japan declare a refusal to send any diplomatic or other government representation to the Beijing Games.

A group of LDP lawmakers, including Shigeharu Aoyama of the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of parliament, has asked the government to join the U.S.-led boycott.

On Wednesday, LDP policy leader Sanae Takaichi expressed her support for Japan’s participation in the boycott.

Opposition lawmakers are also starting to take a similar view.

“Severe measures may become necessary,” Junya Ogawa, policy leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, told a news conference Thursday.

Japan “should consider a diplomatic boycott,” said Yuichiro Tamaki, head of the major opposition Democratic Party for the People.

Meanwhile, the government remains careful about making a quick decision.

“I will decide the Japanese government’s response at an appropriate time in the light of national interests after comprehensively considering diplomatic and other factors,” Kishida said Thursday at a plenary meeting of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber.

However, a government official said that the pressure on Japan to join the boycott may increase after four countries including the United States decided to take concerted action over human rights issues.

“It’s not good to be too late and become the last one” to make a decision, a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi is slated to attend a meeting of the Group of Seven foreign ministers in Liverpool, England, from Friday. The Beijing Olympics may become a topic at the meeting.

It is believed that Tokyo will decide whether to join the boycott after seeing the decisions made by France, where the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics will be held, and Germany.

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the Olympics should not be politicized, terming the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games an insignificant symbolic step.

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