Japan won’t send delegation of ministers to represent government at Beijing Games

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  • Hirokazu Matsuno
    Japanese politician

Japan, on Friday, announced that it won’t send a delegation of ministers representing the government to the Beijing Olympics but said that the country’s several Olympic committee presidents shall go.

The move comes after the US White House announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in China because of concerns about Beijing’s human rights record.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told the media on Friday that “we have no plans to send a government delegation.”

However, he added the Tokyo Olympic Organising Committee President Seiko Hashimoto, Japanese Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita, and president of Japan’s Paralympic Committee Kazuyuki Mori will attend.

Last week, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he had no plans to attend the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

When he was asked by an opposition lawmaker from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Shinkun Haku, whether he planned to travel to China to attend the Games, the Prime Minister had said: “At the moment, I have no plans to attend.”

Meanwhile, Mr Matsuno said that the three officials from the country are going to Beijing at the invitation of the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees.

“Japan believes that it is important for China to guarantee the universal values ​​of freedom, respect for basic human rights, and the rule of law, which are universal values ​​in the international community,” Mr Matsuno said.

He said that Japan took these things into consideration before arriving at a decision regarding Beijing Olympics.

Several other countries have joined the US in the diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing — including Australia, the UK and Canada.

France, however, earlier this month said that it won’t boycott the event.

Paris is scheduled to host the 2024 Summer Games.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin of Russia has said that he might attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

He also said that the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics by the United States and its allies is a “mistake” and is driven by a “desire to restrain China’s development.”

Human rights advocates across the world have been calling for the boycott of the Winter Olympics given the genocide of Uyghurs in China — about one million Uyghurs are being held in camps in Xinjiang — and Beijing’s crackdown on the protestors on Hong Kong and its policies towards Taiwan and Tibet.

Activists also accuse China of forced sterilisation and forced labour of Uyghur Muslims.

Mr Matsuno, on Friday, when asked if the government’s decision to not send a ministerial delegation to Beijing was a diplomatic boycott, responded saying: “We don’t use a particular term to describe how we attend.”

China has criticised the United States and its allies for the boycott and accused them of violating the political neutrality required in the spirit of the Olympic Charter.

Mr Matsuno said: “Japan hopes the Beijing Olympics will be held as the festival of peace in the spirit of Olympics and Paralympics.”

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