Japan’s ruling LDP lawmakers call for Beijing Olympics boycott

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Liberal Democratic Party headquarters

In the run-up to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are increasingly concerned about and critical of the Chinese government’s human rights violations.

Conservative lawmakers hope to pass a resolution condemning China for human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Hong Kong and elsewhere, in the current Diet session.

Some are calling for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games. At a meeting of a group of conservative lawmakers in the Diet on Wednesday, Sanae Takaichi, chairperson of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, said that Japan “should do it” when asked about her opinion on a diplomatic boycott.

On the same day, five LDP and bipartisan leagues that handle Uighur, Tibetan and other issues held a joint meeting and confirmed their intention to adopt a parliamentary resolution condemning China.

Another group of conservative lawmakers proposed the early adoption of the resolution to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is also the LDP president, on Tuesday.

Conservative lawmakers are stepping up their moves because they see the Japanese government’s stance as lukewarm compared with that of the United States and Europe, which have been increasingly tough on China over human rights issues.

After failing to pass a resolution condemning China in the previous ordinary Diet session, the conservative lawmakers are making another try to pass a resolution in the current Diet session ahead of the Beijing Games.

Hakubun Shimomura, former chairperson of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, said on a TV program Tuesday night, “[China] should hold a festival of peace on the premise that basic human rights are guaranteed.”

In Japan-China relations, there are also issues of violations of Japan’s sovereignty, such as provocations by China Coast Guard vessels near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. China’s increasing military pressure on Taiwan is also directly linked to Japan’s security.

The United States, Australia, Britain and Canada have announced diplomatic boycotts of the Beijing Games over human rights issues, but the Japanese government has yet to decide its stance on a boycott. Some members of the LDP have called for a diplomatic boycott for reasons including to protest the Senkaku issue.

Masahisa Sato, director of the LDP’s Foreign Affairs Division, said, “The participation of state leaders and cabinet ministers in the Olympics will not send a good message.”

Kishida, who has yet to take a clear stance on the issue, has been targeted by hardline lawmakers. Criticism is still lingering over the appointment of Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who had headed the Japan-China Parliamentary Friendship Association.

On Friday night, while dining with a former lawmaker he is close to, the prime minister reportedly complained that he was seen as flattering China.

Some LDP members have expressed understanding about the government’s diplomatic stance. Tatsuo Fukuda, chairperson of the LDP’s General Council, said, “We need to have a variety of [diplomatic] channels.” However, if the conservative lawmakers gain more momentum, confrontations with lawmakers who are cautious about taking a hardline stance against China could become pronounced.