TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday suggested that the country would seek to take in Hong Kong residents employed in the financial sector and other specialized fields as China moves to impose national security legislation on the city.
"We have been welcoming foreign talent with specialized and technical abilities, including from Hong Kong, and will continue to actively do so," Abe said in an upper house parliamentary budget meeting. He was responding to a question from a fellow member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
"It is important for Tokyo to remain an attractive place of business for the finance industry, and to continue developing as an international city that brings together people, information and money from around the world," Abe said. "In order for it to become a financial center, we need to bring in more talent."
Critics of China's plans worry that the new legislation would undermine Hong Kong's autonomy and its status as a global financial and business hub. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans to grant Hong Kong residents a "route to citizenship" should China proceed with the legislation.
"Japan is also deeply concerned by the situation," Abe said. "We will respond appropriately in coordination with relevant countries."
Abe also pushed for a shift in Japan's supply chain for masks and other protective medical equipment, which currently relies heavily on China.
"In order to protect our public health and national security, we will create a stable supply chain that is based not only on price competition," he said. "We need to maintain and advance multilateral free trade."
Abe said the coronavirus outbreak has spotlighted many issues linked to Japan's future role in the international community.
"We will advance Japan's vision for the world and lead the creation of a new international order" through organizations such as the Group of Seven leading industrial nations, he said.