TOKYO. Japan’s foreign minister urged his Chinese counterpart to take steps to improve human rights conditions for Uighurs and stop the crackdown in Hong Kong, according to an official Japanese account of a call between officials.
The unusually strong message from Tokyo comes shortly before Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga travels to the US for a summit with President Biden on April 16.
Japan is often cautious about angering Beijing, which is its biggest trading partner. Tokyo is a close ally of Washington, but did not join the United States and other nations in March in imposing sanctions on China for its repression of its Uighur majority, mostly Muslim.
During Monday’s 90-minute phone call, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi also expressed concern to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi about the continued presence of armed Chinese coast guard vessels around the islands of the East China Sea controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing.
In a statement following the call, China’s Foreign Ministry said Wang objected to Japan’s interference in matters related to the Xinjiang region, where human rights groups have alleged crackdown on Uighurs and Hong Kong and urged Japan to respect China’s internal affairs.