Tokyo, Dec. 7 (Jiji Press)–Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is struggling to decide how to respond to the United States’ diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
“We’ll make a decision by ourselves in terms of national interests,” Kishida told reporters on Tuesday, indicating that the Japanese government will watch how the matter develops.
The prime minister is likely to make a tough decision at a time when the United States and European countries are stepping up criticism of China’s human rights abuse in Xinjiang.
On Tuesday, Kishida met with members of a conservative parliamentary group of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, including Shigeharu Aoyama, a member of the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of parliament.
Asked by the group for Japan’s diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games in February, Kishida stressed his eagerness to make a decision independently instead of following in the footsteps of the United States and Europe.
Aoyama quoted Kishida as saying that Beijing’s claim that the Tokyo Olympics was held this summer thanks to China’s support is not true, a comment that suggested that Japan is in talks with China.
China sent Gou Zhongwen, minister of the General Administration of Sport of China, to the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
LDP members are increasingly supporting a plan not to dispatch ministerial-level officials or politicians to the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games.
A compromise plan to send Japan Sports Agency Commissioner Koji Murofushi or Japanese Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita to the event is being discussed.
The Japanese government is considering its response carefully as “Japan has to get along with both the United States and China,” one source said.
Tokyo apparently wants to avoid a conflict with Beijing as the two sides are promoting bilateral economic and human exchanges ahead of the 50th anniversary in 2022 of the normalization of their diplomatic relations.
But one source close to Kishida voiced concerns that the pressure on Japan may grow, saying, “When other countries are trying to unite, Japan can’t take a different step.”
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference Tuesday that the government will “make a decision at an appropriate time.”