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Japan ruling party seeks cancellation of state visit by China's Xi

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the opening ceremony of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 22, 2020. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Lawmakers from Japan's ruling party said Friday they will urge the government to cancel Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit, citing concerns over Beijing's crackdown on dissidents in Hong Kong under a new national security law.

    Senior members of the Liberal Democratic Party's two committees on foreign affairs drew up a draft resolution decrying the law, which took effect Tuesday and was quickly used to arrest protestors. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leads the party.

    "We cannot just stand by and watch. We voice our strong condemnation (of the law)," the resolution said. "We cannot help but doubt whether fundamental values such as freedom, human rights and democracy will be upheld" in Hong Kong.

    The resolution also calls on the government to explore ways to help Hong Kong residents who fear Chinese oppression move to Japan, for example, by making it easier for them to obtain work visas here.

    The committees are expected to formally adopt the resolution next week and submit it to the office of Abe, who is viewed as being right-wing by Beijing.

    China immediately reacted to the LDP's resolution, saying the party lawmakers "have long been accustomed to making irresponsible remarks about internal affairs of other nations."

    "Their anti-Chinese performances have no meaning to China. We have no time and no interest to deal with them," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing.

    Xi's visit, which would include a summit with Abe as well as a meeting with Emperor Naruhito and a banquet at the Imperial Palace, had been slated to take place this spring but was postponed due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

    The resolution by the LDP's Foreign Affairs Division and Research Commission on Foreign Affairs reflects growing calls within the party and its conservative base to cancel Xi's trip outright.

    In an earlier resolution adopted in late May, LDP lawmakers asked the Abe government to "reconsider" the invitation.

    Yasuhide Nakayama, head of the Foreign Affairs Division, told reporters the lawmakers felt strongly that China's actions warranted taking a tough stand.

    On the timing of Xi's visit, Abe said last month, "We will continue to maintain communication with China, but for now, at least, we have yet to reach a stage where we can arrange a specific date."

    The National People's Congress Standing Committee, China's top legislative body, on Tuesday unanimously passed the national security law, which prohibits acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces in Hong Kong.

    Countries including the United States, Britain and Japan have strongly criticized the move, saying it erodes freedoms and goes against the promise of a "high degree of autonomy" in the former British colony for 50 years after its return to China in 1997.

    Relations between the Japanese and Chinese governments have been improving in recent years by the effective shelving of a territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

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