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Eriko Yamatani

【#641(Special)】Japanese Lawmakers Don’t Tolerate Human Rights Abuse

Eriko Yamatani / 2019.12.12 (Thu)

December 12, 2019

The international community especially Western countries are casting stern eyes on the suppression of Tibetan and Uyghur human rights in China, the world’s second largest military and economic power. On December 3, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 407 to one to pass the Uyghur human rights bill that urges President Donald Trump and his administration to make stern responses to Chinese authorities that crack down on the Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

The bill points out that Chinese authorities are stepping up a crackdown in the Region, requiring President Trump to condemn the action and demand China to immediately shut down internment camps there that China calls “reeducation facilities.” President Trump has yet to specify whether to sign into law the bill. Given that his decision would exert great influence on the international community, I hope that the president would sign it.

China attempted to interrupt World Uyghur Congress in Tokyo

I am a member of the Japan-Uyghur Parliamentarians’ League, which was launched by Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers in 2012 when the Fourth World Uyghur Congress took place in Tokyo. The league now has 30 members.

In fact, the then Chinese ambassador in Tokyo sent letters to more than 100 National Diet members in ruling and opposition camps, warning that Japan’s safety would be hurt if the World Uyghur Congress could open in Japan. LDP lawmakers called a press conference to protest the warning and sent the Chinese ambassador a protest letter stating that “we would continue to act according to Japanese National Diet members’ common wisdom.” I would like China to behave as a big country that has a great regard for the international community’s values, freedom, human right, democracy and the rule of law.

Nearly twenty years ago, I visited Kaxgar, Urumqi, Turpan and other places in the Uyghur Autonomous Region. They were charming locations that featured beautiful Islamic spiritual cultures, songs, dances, prayers and livelihoods, and gentle people. In the Region, more than one million Uyghurs have reportedly been detained, tortured and deprived of their religion, culture and history in internment camps. The detainment has come under harsh fire from the international community.

Justifiable humanitarian intervention

China has insisted that the detainment is an internal problem. At a press conference in Beijing on December 9, the Autonomous Region’s Chairman Shohrat Zakir asserted that the international community’s criticism against the detainment amounted to a blatant intervention in China’s domestic affairs. Is this true? The international common wisdom is that the international community should humanely intervene in human rights abuse if it reaches a critical level that shocks human conscience.

The international environment surrounding Japan is plagued with unprecedented sense of tension. Under a firm belief that any human rights abuse should not be tolerated, my colleague lawmakers and I would like to forge ahead in “one team.”

Eriko Yamatani is a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker in the House of Councilors and former cabinet minister delegated as the Chairperson of the National Public Safety Commission.