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Commentary: Japan is a perennial lair of panda huggers

By Abiru Rui, Sankei editorial writer and member of editorial staff of political section


What are the major issues the world faces today? One is how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic originated in Wuhan, and the other is how to confront the challenge to democracy posed by China and other despotic countries.


China, under the Communist Party’s one-party regime, has been severely condemned by the international community for its harsh human rights violations and suppression of speech in the Xinjiang Uygur and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions and Hong Kong. Japan, along with other countries that share common values such as freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, must naturally take action to discourage China’s tyranny.


“How many of the 1.3 billion (at the time) Chinese people today wholeheartedly support the Communist Party? The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the average Chinese people are two different things.” This is what the late Shanghai Consul-General Sugimoto Nobuyuki told me when I interviewed him in June 2006. I have kept his words in mind ever since.


And now Chinese leader Xi Jinping is calling for people to “believe in and love the CCP forever” and instructing them to expand the pro-China circle around the world. But after all, China continues to suppress ethnic minorities, control speech, and promote a beloved China in order to maintain the CCP regime. Emphasizing the superiority of China’s political system over democracy is likely also for the purpose of the CCP’s self-preservation. 


However, on the occasion of the centennial of the CCP foundation on June 1,  former Minister of Home Affairs Ozawa Ichiro of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan sent a message of congratulations to China. According to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency, Ozawa’s message is as follows: “Since its founding, the CCP has overcome many difficulties and grown China into a country with great political and economic influence. The international community has unprecedentedly high expectations for China.”


According to an article contributed by Director Endo Homare of the Global Research Institute on Chinese Issues to the Japanese edition of the U.S. Newsweek magazine (dated June 27), former Lower House Speaker Kono Yohei also sent a congratulatory message to China as follows: “The CCP has united to lead the Chinese people and established a perfect socialist system. This is a remarkable and brilliant achievement.”


I wonder whether these two messages are dark jokes. For major politicians of the ruling and opposition parties to praise a country that is allegedly carrying out genocide is tantamount to declaring to the world that Japan disregards human rights and humanity.


Mr. Kono’s extreme pro-China stance is well known, but Mr. Ozawa is also quite pro-China.


In Dec. 2009, during the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) administration, Mr. Ozawa, as the party’s Secretary General, realized a “special meeting” between Mr. Xi, then the Vice President of the State, and His Majesty the Emperor (now His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus). This was done over the objections of the Imperial Household Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, breaking the “one-month rule,” under which foreign dignitaries must make a formal request in writing at least one month in advance if they wish to have an audience with His Majesty the Emperor.


In the same month, Mr. Ozawa was in China, leading a large delegation of 626 people, including 143 DPJ Diet members, secretaries and supporters.


Regarding the DPJ’s moves at the time, one of senior officials of the Foreign Ministry said, “It’s as if Japan has become a running dog of China,” while another lamented that the DPJ is an administration that is leading the country to ruin. This was despite the fact that one of the two officials was a member of the China School (Chinese language training group) in the ministry.


After I wrote an article referring to “a running dog” and “an administration that is leading the country to ruin,” the DPJ tried to discover the identity of the person in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who spoke those words. And the DPJ promoted a MOFA senior official who led the search.


Even without Xi Jinping issuing instructions, Japan is already a lair of panda huggers

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