JAPAN BELATEDLY DECIDES TO CONDEMN CHINA’S HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
Japanese leaders, politicians and businessmen alike, have previously remained incredibly obsequious to their Chinese counterparts, especially when it came to Beijing’s human rights abuses. But that hopefully will become a thing of the past following the inaugural general session of the newly founded bipartisan “Parliamentary League to Expose and Take Action against China’s Human Rights Abuses” (hereafter the “League”) held on December 6 in Tokyo.
Three separate parliamentary groups, each addressing China’s brutal human rights violations in Tibet, Uyghur, and Southern Mongolia, have existed in the Diet. Now these groups have pledged to work closely together to protect against further abuses of the ethnic groups in the three autonomous regions in China.
The new League is headed by Keiji Furuya, a senior member of the ruling Liberal-Democratic Party who once served as Chairman of the National Security Commission. Sanae Takaichi, incumbent Minister of State for Economic Security and chairperson of the Parliamentary Federation for Southern Mongolia, will serve as Furuya’s deputy. Key opposition members include Nobuyuki Baba, new head of the Japan Innovation Party; Gen Matsubara, former Minister for the Abduction Issue under a Democratic administration (2009-2012); and Yuichiro Tamaki, head of the Democratic Party for the People. Some 60 parliamentarians, including their proxies, attended the inaugural session.
Takaichi said it is truly regrettable that Japan is the only G7 (Group of Seven) nation without its version of the Magnitsky Act, which is designed to sanction foreign government officials deemed to be human rights offenders. The League will deal with this problem “properly,” stressed Takaichi.
Representatives of the three ethnic groups invited to the inaugural meeting included Lobsang Sangay, former prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile in Dhamsala, India. Pointing out that the three ethnic groups have suffered the same anguish under China’s brutal oppression, Sangay said China is far from the peace-loving nation the Chinese leadership claims it to be. He explained:
“The Chinese have kept asserting that they would never invade other nations, but that has been quite contrary to the truth. They built the Great Wall 1,000 to 2,000 years ago to prevent foreign invasion. At the time only the territories within the Wall were defined as China. But they have since been aggressively expanding their territories far beyond.
“The Chinese have named the land that belonged to the Uyghurs ‘Xinjiang’”—‘new territory.’ They call it by this name because it is a new territory they wrested away from the Uyghurs. They would never have called it as such had it been their indigenous territory from the start. By continuing to plunder land from their neighbors, the Chinese have expanded their country to its present size, more than half, or 60%, of which is the land they have wrenched away from us three ethnic groups.”
With Same Resolve as Late Shinzo Abe
China resorts to every trick under the sun to take in any nation it targets, deceiving its elites with sweet words and bribing them with the Chinese money that seems inexhaustible. Sangei observed:
“China will tell you: ‘Not to worry. Everything will be alright.’ But those are exactly the words you must watch out for. Look what’s happened to my country. Don’t let your guard down.”
Dolkun Isa, Chairman of the Munich-headquartered World Uyghur Congress, has also expressed a profound sense of danger with an intensity that defies objection. His fiery remarks are understandable in light of an estimated one million or so Uyghurs being incarcerated in the Xinjian Autonomous Region and subjected to brutal torture. He said:
“I wish to request Japan to do whatever it takes to stop the genocide. Please do not stand side by side with China just because it is a big power. When the Japanese prime minister sees Xi Jinping at international conferences, we want him to tell Xi to stop the oppression of the Uyghurs. The late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pointed out the plight of the Uyghurs directly to Xi’s face, and we hope the present Japanese leadership will live up to Mr. Abe’s diplomacy toward China in a similar manner.”
Abe held a summit with Xi in Beijing on December 23, 2019. In pre-summit consultations, the Chinese side stringently demanded that Abe “not bring up matters relating to the Uyghurs.” As the summit progressed, however, Abe ignored the demand and questioned Xi point-blank what the truth was about China’s alleged oppression of the Uyghurs. Abe later told me:
“The air froze then and there, with Xi snapping: ‘So you wish to discuss the Uyghur issue? The Taiwan issue would have been excusable, but…’ It was a tense moment, but Xi and I then managed to calmly continue our dialogue.”
Many Uyghurs are familiar with this anecdote and heartily appreciate Abe for the stand he took before Xi. Isa repeatedly stated his wish that the Japanese government will oppose China’s oppression of the Uyghurs “with the same firm resolve” as Abe. Given the situation involving his family, one can well understand the impact of Isa’s remarks, which clearly were driven by his dire necessity for some backing.
Isa lost his dear mother, Ayhan Memet, at an incarceration camp in Xinjiang in May 2018. She was 78. Isa (55) left China in 1994 after being dismissed from Xinjiang University for his human rights activities for minorities. He went to Turkey en route to Europe and became a German citizen in 2006. He has since been disseminating reports globally on the Uyghur situation as a representative of his congress. The Chinese authorities arrested his elderly mother because her son was criticizing the Chinese government from abroad. She was subjected to repeated interrogations under appalling conditions.
What methods of torture do the Chinese authorities employ? Among the many cases I am aware of is that of a hapless Japanese woman many years ago. The torture she was subjected to may not necessarily be the same as what today’s Uyghurs are going through. Also, all the details of the torture inflicted on her unfortunately have not been disclosed. Still, as Japanese we need to be aware of the severeness of the torture she endured.
‟House of Common Sense?”
Following her arrest, the Japanese woman was allegedly stripped naked with her hands and legs tied to a chair during her detention. Her excretion and urine reportedly were left unattended. The living hell reportedly lasted, almost driving her mad.
This incident occurred a long time ago, as I have mentioned. But the torture allegedly inflicted by the Chinese authorities on the woman overlaps with the details of the oppression of the Uyghurs revealed in a variety of ways in Japan, including the works by manga comic-style artist Tomomi Shimizu, whose work What Has Happened to Me (Kisetsu-sha Publishing Co., Kyoto; 2020) went viral. The 39-page work is based on the real-life experience of Mihrigul Tursun, a Uyghur woman who was detained and tortured in China when she temporarily returned from Germany in 2015. She went through a series of tough interrogations off and on for three years before she finally immigrated to the US in late 2018. The Chinese authorities haven’t changed their methods of torture in the least over the years. Bearing that in mind, we Japanese must freshly make up our minds to never condone such odious human rights abuses.
Yang Hai-ying, a professor at Shizuoka Prefectural University, was born in Southern Mongolia, moved to Japan 33 years ago, and has since been naturalized in Japan. Representing his native motherland, Yang said:
“The unprecedented amount of grants and loans Japan extended to China in overseas development aid (ODA) over four decades has created a satanic country. Japan is now helping other developing nations under the same program. I strongly urge the Japanese government to include our three ethnic groups as its beneficiaries. Also, I would like for Japan to set up a human rights resource center, which would enable Japan to function as one of the key hubs for the international community committed to studying China’s human rights abuses.”
The important thing for the entire world is to prevent China from engaging in activities in total disregard of international law on all fronts. Japan has an extremely huge role to play in this regard. No other nation in Asia beyond Japan can speak straight to China. That makes Japan all the more responsible.
Looking inside Nagata-cho, one is appalled to realize how many of our politicians are trying to keep silent on China. On the same day as the inaugural session of Furuya’s League, the Upper House adopted a resolution expressing “concern over the human rights situation in Xinjiang and other regions” without directly naming China but referring to it as “the country concerned” instead. With a likely adverse Chinese response obviously in mind, the resolution even referred to Beijing’s human rights abuses as the “human rights situation.” What has our Upper House of Parliament come to? Who said it is “the house of common sense”? All the more reason for me to have high expectations of the League as I anxiously wait for its members to start acting like true Japanese politicians should.
(Translated from “Renaissance Japan” column no. 1,028 in the December 15, 2022 issue of The Weekly Shincho)