The EU, U.S., U.K. and Canada imposed fresh sanctions Monday on Chinese officials over the crackdown on Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, while Japan — the sole G7 member not backing the measures — expressed “grave concerns” over the crackdown, which has sparked international outrage.

Asked about the possibility of Japan imposing its own economic sanctions, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato stressed that there is no provision in the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law that allows the government to unilaterally impose sanctions based solely on the issue of human rights.

Tokyo faces a dilemma about how to deal with its powerful but crucial neighbor as fears grow of a new cold war between Beijing and the West. Kyodo quotes diplomatic sources in Beijing as warning that the leadership of President Xi Jinping has already become more wary of Tokyo’s political proximity to the U.S. as the allies work to curb Chinese clout in the region.

Western sanctions on China over Xinjiang trigger furious response | AL JAZEERA ENGLISH
Western sanctions on China over Xinjiang trigger furious response | AL JAZEERA ENGLISH

In a move sure to anger China, the Japanese and U.S. defense chiefs agreed in their recent meeting in Tokyo to closely cooperate in the event of a military clash between China and Taiwan, sources say. Tokyo has been reviewing the feasibility of dispatching the Self-Defense Forces to protect U.S. warships and planes in the event of such a crisis.

Meanwhile, a Japan Defense Ministry think tank report is warning that China has “steadily improved” its capability to fend off U.S. Navy vessels in the western Pacific, particularly with the deployment of ground-based anti-ship ballistic missiles on the Chinese coast.

On the U.S. side, its top commander for the Indo-Pacific region has suggested that the military hopes to create its own network of longer-range, land-based missiles in the western Pacific — possibly even on far-flung Japanese islands — to deter China from military action against Taiwan or the Japan-held Senkaku islets, Jesse Johnson reports.