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LDP to form new project team to enhance human rights diplomacy

The Foreign Affairs Division of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will launch a new “human rights diplomacy project team” next week, the Sankei Shimbun learned on Jan. 27. The LDP will intensively discuss China’s suppression of human rights, including Hong Kong, Uyghur and Tibet issues, and aims to reflect such matters in the government’s foreign policy. With the inauguration of the U.S. Biden administration, which attaches importance to human rights issues, the LDP apparently judged that Japan needs to make human rights into a pillar of its diplomacy.

 

Acting Director Norikazu Suzuki of the LDP Foreign Affairs Division will head the project team. The LDP intends to draw up a party plan by the G7 summit slated for June. “Both the U.S. and Europe are taking a tough stance on China’s human rights record,” said Director Masahisa Sato of the Foreign Affairs Division. “Unless Japan takes a firm stance [on China’s suppression of human rights], we may be isolated in the international community,” he said revealing his sense of crisis.

 

The Trump administration took a tough stance on human rights issues in China, and the Biden administration is expected to take an equivalent or even stricter stance. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations during his confirmation hearing that the Chinese government’s oppression of the Uyghur people is “genocide.”

 

In contrast, the Japanese government presented its view at the Jan. 26 meeting of the LDP’s Foreign Affairs Division, saying, “We do not deem it to be genocide” (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). While the U.S. and Europe are taking a tough stance on the issues of Hong Kong and Tibet, the Japanese government tends to just say it is “concerned” or “monitoring (the situation).” This has invited criticism from the LDP that the government focuses on the economy with China and shies away from human rights issues. One of the LDP officials said, “Such a stance will undermine Japan’s diplomacy.”

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