Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party adopted a resolution on Tuesday urging the government to cancel a visit to Japan by Chinese President Xi Jinping following Beijing’s imposition of a new national security law for Hong Kong.
“Under the current situation where grave concerns have been expressed from the international community about the principles of freedom, human rights, democracy ... we have no choice but to urge (the government) to cancel President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Japan,” the Liberal Democratic Party said in its resolution, read by party diplomatic panel chief Yasuhide Nakayama.
The resolution condemned Beijing’s imposition last week of the security law for semi-autonomous Hong Kong. It said China should address the concerns of the international community, and the Japanese government should call more assertively on China to work toward building friendly relations.
The new law makes secessionist, subversive, or terrorist activities illegal, as well as foreign intervention in the city’s internal affairs. Critics see it as Beijing’s boldest step yet to erase the legal firewall between the former British colony and the mainland’s authoritarian Communist system.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the top spokesman for Abe’s government, said the timing is not appropriate for arranging details of Xi’s visit and nothing has been decided.
Suga said the government’s position is that Japan and China should resolve outstanding issues through high-level talks including those between the leaders. He declined to comment on the possible impact of the resolution on Japan-China relations.
China has already criticized Japan for its recent expressions of regret over Beijing’s approach to Hong Kong.
Xi’s Japan visit, initially planned for this spring, had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. But China hawks in the ruling party have repeatedly raised criticisms of Abe’s invitation of Xi as a state guest, particularly amid anti-government unrest in Hong Kong since last year.
Abe has made improved Japan-China ties one of his main diplomatic goals.
Japan and China have long had disputes over their wartime history, ownership of a cluster of islands and undersea deposits in the East China Sea.