Japan may not send ministers to attend Beijing Olympics, report says

The Japanese government is considering a decision to refrain from sending its ministers to the Winter Olympics in Beijing, to align itself with the U.S. and others who already announced diplomatic boycotts, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, citing unidentified government and ruling party officials.

The government is mulling whether to instead send Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, according to the report. It’s also cautiously discussing whether Koji Murofushi, commissioner of the Japan Sports Agency, should attend, it said.

Japanese athletes will be sent as scheduled, the Yomiuri reported. The government is likely to make a final decision by the end of this year, it added.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration is facing rising pressure from in and out of Japan to join the U.S.-led diplomatic boycott.

Some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party say that Japan should follow in the footsteps of the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada in declaring a diplomatic boycott of the Games.

Kishida plans to wait and see how other countries respond before making a decision. But calls for tough action against China, which has human rights issues, are increasing every day.

The administration is “required to show a political attitude and send out a message about the human rights situation” in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur region, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told his faction at a meeting on Thursday.

“Isn’t it the time to express Japan’s will?” Abe added, urging the government to make a decision early.

Meanwhile, the government remains cautious about making a quick decision.

“I will decide the Japanese government’s response at an appropriate time in the light of national interests after comprehensively considering diplomatic and other factors,” Kishida said Thursday at a plenary meeting of the House of Representatives.

However, a government official said that the pressure on Japan to join the boycott may increase after four countries decided to take concerted action over human rights issues.

“It’s not good to be too late and become the last one” to make a decision, a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

It is believed that Tokyo will decide whether to join the boycott after seeing the decisions made by France, where the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics will be held, and Germany.

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the Olympics should not be politicized, terming the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games an insignificant symbolic step.

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