Japan won’t send Cabinet ministers to attend Beijing Olympics


The Japanese government will refrain from sending a Cabinet minister to the Winter Olympics in Beijing, to align itself with the U.S. and others who already announced diplomatic boycotts, government sources said Saturday.

Japan will instead send Yasuhiro Yamashita, the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, the sources said.

The government is also mulling whether to send Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, while also discussing whether Koji Murofushi, commissioner of the Japan Sports Agency, should attend the Games, which are scheduled to begin in February.

Japanese athletes are expected to be sent as scheduled. A report by the Yomiuri daily Saturday said the government is likely to make a final decision by the end of this year.

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.

The government has remained 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.

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