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Japan may need to act over Uighur forced labor

  • June 14, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 9:46 p.m.
  • English Press
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Washington, June 14 (Jiji Press)–Japan may be pressured to take specific action over the issue of forced labor of Uighurs in China after the summit of the Group of Seven major industrial nations that ended on Sunday, analysts have said.


In their communique adopted at the summit in Cornwall, southwestern England, the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States plus the European Union agreed to strengthen cooperation to eradicate forced labor in the global supply chains, apparently having China’s human rights abuse in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region in mind.


Japan is the only G-7 nation that has not imposed sanctions against human rights abuse by China. This is because Japan does not have a law to punish human rights violation cases abroad.


Also, it seems that Japanese companies are slow to stop using cotton produced in the Xinjiang Uighur region. In addition, a draft Japanese parliamentary resolution protesting against issues linked to the region has yet to be put to a vote.


U.S. President Joe Biden has expressed support for a decision by the administration of his predecessor, Donald Trump, to recognize China’s repression of Uighurs as a genocide.


At the G-7 summit, Biden called for concrete action to be taken against forced labor.


In the summit communique, the G-7 leaders expressed strong concerns over “state-sponsored forced labor,” with China in mind, and vowed to consider countermeasures toward a G-7 meeting of trade ministers in October.


Apparently taking account of a U.S. ban on imports of cotton products and tomatoes from the Xinjiang Uighur region, the joint statement noted that forced labor involves mainly the agricultural, solar and garment sectors.


The Biden administration is considering whether to add solar panel materials from the region to its list of goods subject to the import ban. The region accounts for nearly half of the total global supplies of the materials.


An increasing number of U.S. and European companies are shunning items related to forced labor.


It came to light in May that U.S. customs authorities had blocked imports of Uniqlo brand shirts by Japan’s Fast Retailing Co. <9983> for possible violation of the U.S. import ban related to forced labor in the Xinjiang Uighur region.

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