PRO-BEIJING PARTNER SPELLS TROUBLE FOR COALITION GOVERNMENT
On January 15, I gave a speech at a gathering in Tokyo hosted by the Japan Uyghur Association, a non-profit body founded in 2008. The theme of the meeting: “How Should Japan Address China’s Genocide of Uyghurs?” The event drew around 300 people, including some 40 Uyghurs residing in Japan. Six of them spoke following my address, describing their escape from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwestern China and the plight of their families’ left behind. They all spoke of some members of their families being unaccounted for, including some feared to have been killed by the Chinese. Because the Chinese completely block information coming out of the region, the Uyghurs have a difficult time even ascertaining whether or not their loved ones are alive.
Since 2017, when the Xi Jinping administration entered its second five-year term, China has been intensifying its policy of oppressing and killing Muslim Uyghurs for the simple reason that they are Uyghurs.
At the outset of the event, Ken Saito, a Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) lawmaker and co-chairman of the nonpartisan “Parliamentary Association for Reconsidering Human Rights Diplomacy,” vowed that the association would aim to have a resolution adopted on the first day of the ordinary session of the Diet, January 17, condemning China for its brutal human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other minorities. How we Japanese address the Uyghur issue, I believe, corresponds to coming to grips with the true nature of the ethnic oppression committed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Xi Jinping has utilized the world’s most advanced technologies in completing a sophisticated nation-wide surveillance network targeting every single soul in China. The CCP has installed an estimated 200 million surveillance cameras on every street corner across China—undoubtedly more than any other nation. But operating surveillance cameras around the clock is not the only means by which the CCP arbitrarily collects information about the Uyghurs. American investigative journalist Geoffrey Cain dramatically depicts their predicament in a 305-page book: The Perfect Police State: An Undercover Odyssey into China’s Terrifying Surveillance Dystopia of the Future (PublicAffairs Books, New York; 2021). The author describes how local police coerced Uyghur families into undergoing a whole gamut of “health examinations” ranging from blood sampling to DNA sampling, wresting every conceivable piece of personal data from the entire population. All this data is managed by the Chinese government, which utilizes it to closely monitor people, crack down on anti-government activities, or even procure organs. The Chinese government is exerting itself to safeguard the dictatorship of the CCP with Xi at the helm, keeping the people under constant surveillance and stringently controlling them. It would not be too far-fetched to assume that Xi’s desire is to implement China’s merciless one-party autocracy not just at home but on a global scale.
The predicament of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang has broader implications, as the CCP has already been severely hampering the democracy and freedom of Mongolians and Hong Kongers, and is likely next targeting Taiwan, Okinawa, and the rest of Japan unless effective countermeasures are worked out expeditiously.
Unbridgeable Gap in Values
At the 19th CCP Congress in October 2017, Xi declared that the Chinese would “stand tall among the peoples of the world” by 2049 when China marks the 100th anniversary of its national founding, building “a community of common destiny with mankind” for the happiness of everyone on earth.
Three years earlier, in 2014, China had inaugurated the World Internet Conference, in which one clearly saw Beijing’s crafty readiness to expedite constructing a national surveillance network via the Internet as the strongest tool to monitor and control the people of China. The conference attracted leading high-tech executives like Apple’s Bruce Sewell, Facebook’s Vaughan Smith, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, and Softbank’s Masayoshi Son.
Then on September 8, 2020, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced a “Global Data Security Initiative,” with the China government ready to lead global digital data governance.
Last September Xi sent a congratulatory letter to the World Internet Conference held September 26-29 in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, declaring China’s commitment to leading the world in making “the digital civilization benefit people of all countries, and promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.” Xi thus pledged China to putting its maximum effort into spreading a global network of more accurate and stricter surveillance and control of all people, corporations, organizations, races, and nations. In other words, Xi wants the entire world to put into practice the thinking of the CCP and the international order it cherishes.
The world has witnessed democracy in Hong Kong vanishing into thin air virtually in a flash. We have also seen Tibetans and Mongolians subjected to ruthless oppression, deprived of their homeland, language, culture, and religion. And we are still witnessing many of them being tortured to death, with both races being systematically ethnically cleansed. Especially severe has been the plight of the Uyghurs under the tyrannical rule of the Chinese. Unless its brutal tyranny is stopped now, a host of nations around China will be brought under the control of the “community of common destiny with mankind” that China envisions.
Alarmed by the seemingly unbridgeable gap in the values with China, the US and major European nations have started to take earnest action against China’s behavior, as manifested by their recognition as genocide of Beijing’s oppression of the Uyghurs.
As noted earlier, LDP Lawmaker Saito stressed at the January 15 Uyghur Association meeting that it is high time the Japanese Diet lodge a strong protest with the Chinese government. Japan’s lack of action to date is embarrassing. The Diet should have protested against China’s human rights abuses of Uyghurs and other ethnic groups much earlier, but no progress has so far been made primarily because of differences between the LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito.
Komeito has taken the teeth out of a draft of a resolution the LDP and other parties prepared to condemn China. The original resolution had its defects, as it was intended to broadly “condemn human rights violations in the Xinjiang autonomous region, Southern Mongolia, Hong Kong, Myanmar, and elsewhere.” Myanmar, not China, was the only nation mentioned as guilty of human rights abuses. The omission of China itself is hard to comprehend, but that action was not enough to satisfy the pro-China Komeito, which came up with a heavily edited version revealing its embarrassing reluctance to antagonize China.
More Than Handful of Honorary Titles from China
Keiji Furuya, acting head of the LDP’s Policy Affairs Research Council, is known to have received in mid-December an edited copy of the draft from his Komeito counterpart Yuzuru Takeuchi. I came across the same copy through other sources. Coming from a political party which prefers to play up its commitment to “peace” and “human rights,” it was laughable—a plain deception of the public.
Allow me first to explain how Komeito edited the title of the resolution, which originally read: “Condemnation Resolution on Serious Human Rights Abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Elsewhere.” The party deleted “Condemnation” and modified “Human Rights Abuses” to “Human Rights Situation.”
As for the part that originally read “grave human rights abuses have occurred,” Komeito softened it by replacing it with “concerns about a grave human rights situation have been raised.”
Also modified was “There are growing calls for help from those who are oppressed,” which now read: “There are growing calls for help from those who claim to have been suppressed” as if to cast doubt about the real state of the difficulties those people were faced with.
In point of fact, the original draft initially contained the following passage: “While sternly condemning China’s human rights abuses and efforts to coercively change the existing order, this chamber strongly urges China to immediately stop its human rights violations by honoring international law in a manner that is satisfactory to the international community…Under the responsibility of this legislature, we are determined to expeditiously introduce legislation aimed at preventing further serious human rights violations and providing redress for the victims.”
But Komeito completely deleted these lines, making one think it must be under Beijing’s thumb. Why does the party have to blur the criminal acts of the Chinese government that have been condemned as genocidal? The Chinese government and Chinese universities have bestowed more than 110 honorary titles on Daisaku Ikeda, who founded Komeito in 1954 as a political arm of Soka Gakkai, the influential sect of Nichiren Buddhism. Ikeda served as its third president 1960-79, but these titles should hardly excuse Komeito for its blatant betrayal of the Japanese people in the face of Communist China.
The LDP has been at the beck and call of its pitiful junior partner since the coalition was formed in 1999. Frankly, it would be a national disgrace if the Japanese government should release such a hollow resolution to the international community. When did Japan cease to be an honorable nation that cherishes justice and humanitarianism? I urge LDP lawmakers to put their lives on the line now to win back a Japan that is truly committed to its traditional values.
(Translated from “Renaissance Japan” column no. 984 in the January 27, 2021 issue of The Weekly Shincho)