Japan will not send a government delegation to the Beijing Olympics

December 24, 2021

The Olympic rings at the National Ski Jumping Center for the 2022 Pking Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province, China, on December 21, 2021. REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rawlins

By Daniel Leussink and Kantaro Komiya

TOKYO, Dec 24 (Reuters) – Japan will not send a government delegation to the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Beijing in February, a move that could exacerbate tensions with China.

Tokyo’s decision follows a US-led diplomatic boycott of the Games over its concerns about human rights in China, although Japan has avoided explicitly linking its measure to this issue.

Although Japan is a partner of the United States, it also has strong economic ties with China.

Tokyo will not send a government delegation to the Games, but will send some officials with direct ties to the Olympics, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference on Friday.

Among them is Seiko Hashimoto, head of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, as well as the heads of the national Olympic and Paralympic committees.

“Japan believes that it is important for China to guarantee freedom, respect for basic human rights and the rule of law, which are universal values ​​of the international community. Japan is addressing these issues with China directly at various levels,” Matsuno said.

“As the Tokyo Games demonstrated, the Olympic and Paralympic Games are a celebration of peace and sport that gives value to the world. The Government of Japan decided its response to the Beijing Winter Olympics taking these points into account and deciding itself”.

The absence of the Japanese delegates was not taken under any “specific term,” Matsuno said, indicating that the government does not qualify the measure as a boycott.

Japan tends to take a softer tone on the issue of human rights in China, as a consequence of its extensive dependence on China, not only as a manufacturing center, but as a market for all kinds of products, from automobiles to construction equipment.

However, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has faced mounting pressure within his Liberal Democratic Party to take a tougher stance on China, according to public broadcaster NHK.

(Reporting by David Dolan and Daniel Leussink; editing by Michael Perry and Clarence Fernandez; translated by Tomás Cobos)