TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan hopes to draft a joint statement on China’s new security legislation on Hong Kong at the next Group of Seven (G7) foreign ministers’ meeting, a Japanese government source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said earlier that Japan is watching the situation in Hong Kong with “deep concern” following the passage by China of a new law for the Hong Kong which could endanger the city’s special autonomy and freedoms.
“Hong Kong is an extremely important partner in terms of both tight economic ties and human relations, and it is important that the original system of ‘one nation, two systems’ be upheld and things proceed stably and democratically,” he said in parliament.
His comments followed a Kyodo news agency report on Sunday that cited officials from Britain, the United States and other countries as saying Japan had decided not to join them in issuing a statement scolding China for the new law.
Tokyo is in a sensitive situation regarding the U.S.-China tension over Hong Kong as it plans for a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, originally set for April but postponed over the coronavirus.
Another Japanese government source familiar with the matter said Japan did not participate in the joint statement partly because of “rather short notice” and partly in order to focus on efforts by the G7, rather then the signatories.
“Japan took the position to do what it has to do independently, in this case because of, first, time constraints, and secondly, our basic position is that we emphasise our efforts in the G7,” the source told Reuters.
Japan had expressed concern about Beijing’s move in a statement on May 28, the day China passed the law, and called in the Chinese ambassador to convey its view.
Other countries had expressed appreciation for Japan’s independent efforts, and it received no complaints, added the source, who sought anonymity because the matter was sensitive.
“We’ve expressed our opinions this way directly and promptly to China at a high level and have made our opinions quite clear to international society,” Yoshihide Suga, the chief cabinet secretary, told a news conference.
(Additional reporting by Linda Sieg and Daniel Leussink; editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Clarence Fernandez and Philippa Fletcher)