The Japanese government yesterday said it would not send representatives to the Beijing Olympics as it called on China to respect human rights and the rule of law.
Government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno did not describe the move as a diplomatic boycott — which has been announced by the US and others — but said there were “no plans” for officials to attend the Games.
“Japan believes it is important that 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 demonstrated to the world, the Olympics and the Paralympics are festivals of peace and sports.”
Australia, Canada, the UK and the Us this month announced diplomatic boycotts of the Beijing Olympics over what they consider to be widespread rights abuses by China, including against the Muslim Uighur minority.
Their boycott stops short of not sending athletes to the Games, which start on Feb. 4.
Beijing has said that the four nations would “pay the price” for the US-led campaign.
Japan, which hosted the Tokyo Olympics this year after the Games were postponed due to COVID-19, is in a tricky position as tensions simmer between the US and China, which are key trade partners.
Matsuno said that the decision had been made after “comprehensive” consideration, adding that Japan has held discussions with Chinese officials on human rights issues “at various levels.”
Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organizing Committee president Seiko Hashimoto and Japan Olympic Committee president Yasuhiro Yamashita would attend the Beijing Games.
“Hashimoto will attend to express gratitude and respect to the athletes and others who supported the Tokyo Games,” Matsuno said.
Japan Paralympic Committee president Kazuyuki Mori would attend the Beijing Winter Paralympics in March, he added.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) said Beijing “welcomes the Japanese Olympic Committee and other relevant officials, as well as Japanese athletes,” but urged “the Japanese side to honor promises to support each other in hosting the Olympic Games and to not politicize sports.”
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