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Japan decides not to send diplomatic representatives to Beijing Olympics

  • December 24, 2021
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The Friday editions of all national dailies reported on Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno’s announcement on Thursday that the GOJ will not send to the Beijing Winter Olympics Sport Agency Commissioner Murofushi or any other government officials and that President Hashimoto of the Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee and JOC President Yamashita will participate instead. While saying that “it is important to ensure that such universal values as freedom, basic human rights, and the rule of law are guaranteed even in China,” the government spokesperson stressed that the Kishida administration made the decision “independently” while considering various factors. He did not call the nonparticipation a “diplomatic boycott,” saying that Japan does not intend to use a “specific phrase” to describe it. “We hope the Games will be convened as a peaceful event in line with the intention and spirit of the Olympiad,” he added.

Yomiuri said the GOJ chose to have Matsuno announce the decision out of concern that such a statement by Prime Minister Kishida would provoke China. The premier met with the press later that evening and echoed Matsuno’s remark that Japan made the decision “independently.” The dailies said Hashimoto’s attendance reflects the delicate balance that Tokyo is trying to maintain between Washington and Beijing, explaining that the GOJ is hoping China will not feel it has “lost face” since Hashimoto was a cabinet member in charge of the Tokyo Olympics.

Asahi wrote that former PM Abe pressed Kishida to announce a boycott sooner rather than later during a meeting on Wednesday by telling his successor: “Japan needs to take the lead among the democracies in Asia. It must declare [a boycott]. China will be upset anyway even if the announcement is made later.” The GOJ made the announcement the next day. “I’m glad that the premier made the decision before the end of the year,” Abe told the press following Matsuno’s announcement. “Japan has joined a coalition of the willing made up of those wishing to improve the human rights situation [in China].” The paper added that China “welcomed” Japan’s decision since the GOJ didn’t cite the human rights situation there as a reason for not sending a government delegation or use the term “diplomatic boycott.” “Besides, Japan expressed hope for the success of the Olympics as a peaceful event,” said an unnamed Chinese diplomatic source.

Mainichi wrote that the U.S. calls for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics are beginning to “lose steam” as many European countries have already elected not to take a concerted line with the U.S., the UK, Australia, and Canada.

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