Japanese Parliament passes resolution on human rights situation in China

The motion cites China’s internment camps for Uyghurs in Xinjiang and its attacks on religion freedom.
By Alim Seytoff
Lawmakers stand up to show their support as Japan's lower house of parliament adopts a resolution on the human rights situation in China, in Tokyo, Japan, Feb. 1, 2022.
Kyodo via Reuters

Japan’s Parliament adopted a resolution on Tuesday expressing concern over the human rights situation in China, including the repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and the crackdown in Hong Kong, calling on its government to take measures to address the situation.

In the rare rights motion passed three days before the start of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, the Lower House of the Diet expressed concern about human rights in Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Hong Kong, and northwestern China’s Xinjiang region. The Upper House will also vote on the statement.

“In recent years, the international community has expressed concern over the serious human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Tibet, Southern Mongolia, Hong Kong and other areas, including violations of religious freedom and forced imprisonment,” lawmakers said, according to Nikkei Asia.

“Since human rights have universal value and are a legitimate concern of the international community, human rights issues should not be confined to the internal affairs of a single country,” the Japanese outlet quoted the resolution as saying.

In a cautious departure from the United States and other countries that have condemned Chinese policies in Xinjiang and elsewhere, the Diet statement did not directly criticize China or even mention the country by name.

The resolution asks the Japanese government to work with international partners to monitor the situation and implement relief measures.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the resolution “ignores the facts, maliciously slanders China’s human rights situation, seriously violates international law and basic norms governing international relations, grossly interferes in China's internal affairs, and is extremely egregious in nature.”

Like the U.S. and other Western nations, Japan has imposed a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Games, which begin on Friday and run to Feb 20.

The Japanese parliament joins lawmakers in Germany, Australia, and Italy who also have expressed serious concern over the human rights situation in China or in recognizing crimes against humanity.

The legislatures of eight Western nations — the U.S., U.K., Canada, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and France — have adopted resolutions declaring that China has committed crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang.

Uyghur activist groups welcomed the vote in Tokyo.

Erkin Ekrem, vice president of the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, said the resolution shows that Japan stands with its U.S. and European allies and acts in tandem with them.

“It also shows that Japan sees human rights as universal values,” he said.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who took office in October 2021, said soon after his election that Japan would not hesitate to express its views or to criticize China’s human rights situation, and he appointed a high-ranking official as his human rights advisor, Erkin said.

Ahmatjan Litip, secretary-general of the Japanese Uyghur Association, pointed out that Japan does not have a history of passing such resolutions.

“In its first such resolution which has just passed, and the word ‘Uyghur’ is in the title,” he said.

“Though the resolution has also raised the human rights situation of the Tibetans, Mongols, and Hongkongers, the fact that the title of the resolution only mentions Uyghurs has a historic significance for us,” he said.

Translated by RFA’s Uyghur Service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.


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