Lower house passes resolution on human rights concerns, with China in mind

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A resolution expressing concerns regarding human rights issues in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and other areas is adopted at a House of Representatives plenary session on Tuesday.

The House of Representatives has passed a resolution expressing concerns regarding the human rights situation in Chinese areas such as Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, without naming China or using expressions such as “human rights violation.”

The resolution was passed Tuesday at a lower house plenary session with support from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito, as well as opposition parties including the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Nippon Ishin no Kai, the Democratic Party for the People and the Japanese Communist Party.

The Diet wants to show that it places importance on human rights, eyeing the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics on Friday.

The resolution also referred to Tibet, Hong Kong and “southern Mongolia” (Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region), saying that “concerns have been expressed over serious human rights situations, such as violations of religious freedom and forcible imprisonment.”

The resolution stated that “ensuring accountability in a way that is acceptable for the international community was strongly urged.”

Softened tone

The resolution was submitted to the lower house by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Keiji Furuya of the LDP and Jin Matsubara of the CDPJ. The LDP avoided naming China or using strong words in the resolution to obtain wide support from various parties.

After the resolution was adopted, Furuya, the executive acting chairperson of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, said: “We thought it was important to pass a resolution before the Beijing Winter Games. Although the wording was somewhat restrained, we have achieved certain results and sent a solid message to the international community.”

Preparations had been ongoing since the ordinary Diet session last year, but coordination within the ruling coalition hit some hurdles.

The LDP concluded it was more important to win wider support, including from Komeito, which places importance on relations with China. In the end, the LDP opted not to name China or include words like “human rights violation” and “condemnation.”

“If you read the resolution, it’s clear that China is the nation in question,” said LDP Policy Research Council Chairperson Sanae Takaichi, regarding references to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and other areas.

Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said Tuesday, “We’d like to ask the Chinese side to make efforts to provide explanations and gain the understanding of the international community.”

CDPJ leader Kenta Izumi told reporters that he valued the content of the resolution, but also said, “[Passing the resolution] just before the opening of the Beijing Olympics was too late.”

Other opposition parties were also critical. Takashi Endo, Nippon Ishin’s Diet affairs committee chairperson, said: “The wording was softened more and more. It just became something that was better to have than not to have.”

The JCP leader Kazuo Shii said, “We voted for it because we had no reason to oppose it, but as a resolution, it’s insufficient.”

Reiwa Shinsengumi voted against the resolution, criticizing it for not naming the country that should be held responsible.

After the adoption of the resolution, DPFP leader Yuichiro Tamaki said, “Domestic laws should be established to impose sanctions for human rights abuses.”

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters on Tuesday night, “We will take the resolution seriously and continue to pursue policies and diplomacy that respect universal values and human rights.”