PM Kishida says not planning to attend Beijing Games

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks in House of Representatives on Tuesday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday that he currently has no plans to attend the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

“At the moment, I’m not planning to attend (the Beijing Games) myself,” Kishida told a meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of Japan’s parliament.

On whether to send a government representative to the upcoming Winter Games and who will possibly be sent, Kishida reiterated, “I will make a decision myself at an appropriate time in light of national interests and by taking various factors into account.”

He made the remarks after countries including the United States have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games in protest against China’s alleged human rights abuses. The Beijing Olympics and Paralympics are slated to start in early February and early March, respectively.

Media reports have said recently that the Japanese government does not plan to send a cabinet minister to the Games while considering having Japanese Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita attend and that dispatching Japan Sports Agency head Koji Murofushi or Seiko Hashimoto, who served as president of the organizing committee of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, could be options.

In a related move, members from a league of conservative lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, including upper house member Shigeharu Aoyama, met with Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi on Wednesday, asking the government not to send Murofushi or Hashimoto to the Beijing Games.

Neither Murofushi nor Hashimoto will be an appropriate choice, they said, noting that the former is a member of the government and the latter is a lawmaker. Hashimoto is a member of the Upper House.

Sending only Yamashita will be an acceptable option, the LDP lawmakers said, urging the government to clarify its stance within this week.

In response, Hayashi said that the government will make a decision at an appropriate time while taking account of the LDP lawmakers’ request, among other factors.