Japanese government officials to miss February event


Japan will not send government officials to the February Olympics in Beijing, Tokyo said on Friday, calling on China to respect human rights and the rule of law.

The logos of the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games are displayed at the Yanqing Exhibition Center. AFP file

Tokyo: Japan will not send government officials to the February Olympics in Beijing, Tokyo said on Friday, calling on China to respect human rights and the rule of law.

Government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno did not call the move a diplomatic boycott – already announced by the United States and others – but said there was “no plan” for officials to attend. games.

“Japan believes that it is important that the common values ​​shared by the international community such as freedom, human rights and the rule of law are also respected in China,” he said.

“As Tokyo 2020 has demonstrated to the world, the Olympics and Paralympics are festivals of peace and sport that give courage to the world.”

The United States, Britain, Australia and Canada this month announced a diplomatic boycott of the Games for what they see as widespread rights violations by China, especially against the minority. Uyghur Muslim.

Their boycott stops before sending athletes to the Winter Games, which begin on February 4.

But Beijing has warned that the four nations will “pay the price” for the US-led campaign.

Japan, which hosted the virus-postponed Tokyo Olympics this year, is in a delicate position as tensions simmer between the United States and China – two key trading partners.

Matsuno said the decision was taken after a “full” review, noting that Japan has had discussions with the Chinese side on human rights issues “at different levels.”

“Respect for athletes”

Tokyo 2020 chief Seiko Hashimoto and Japanese Olympic Committee chairman Yasuhiro Yamashita will attend the Winter Olympics in the Chinese capital, Matsuno said.

The head of the Japanese Paralympic Committee, Kazuyuki Mori, will attend the Paralympic Winter Games in March, he added.

“Hashimoto will be present to express his gratitude and respect to the athletes and others who supported the Tokyo Games,” Matsuno said.

Washington said its diplomatic boycott decision was motivated by rights violations, including what it called the “genocide” of the Uyghur minority.

However, not all of the United States’ allies followed suit. Last week, South Korea ruled out joining the boycott, citing the need to work with China.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is also expected to attend the Games, as are senior French officials.

The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, said this month that he remains politically neutral on the issue, insisting that the important point is “the participation of the athletes”.

Foreign fans will be banned from the Winter Games under virus rules, and the event will take place after several crackdowns – including in Hong Kong – designed to consolidate President Xi Jinping’s power.

Activists say at least one million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities have been held in “re-education camps” in the far west region of Xinjiang.

Beijing has defended the camps as vocational training centers aimed at reducing the appeal of Islamic extremism.

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