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International relations

Abe urged to rethink Xi's Japan visit by own party, citing Hong Kong

China's security legislation raises concerns over 'freedom and democracy'

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Dec. 23. Both countries have been planning a reciprocal visit by Xi to Japan.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan should reconsider the planned state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping after Beijing's move to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong, members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party wrote in a resolution Friday.

The document, put forward by two LDP foreign policy panels, expresses "grave and serious concern from the standpoint of respecting freedom and democracy" about the mainland's tightening grip on Hong Kong

Xi had been slated to visit Japan in April, but the trip was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said last week that Tokyo plans to "begin discussions" with Beijing on setting a new date.

The LDP lawmakers urged Beijing not to "erode the value" of a democratic legislature and other aspects of Hong Kong's autonomy

"We must not turn a blind eye to this serious situation" amid the coronavirus pandemic, the resolution said.

The resolution was given to Suga on Friday by Yasuhide Nakayama, director of the LDP's Foreign Affairs Division, and other party officials. Suga, the top spokesman for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government, said the cabinet would "take it seriously."

"About 1,400 Japanese companies and more than 28,000 Japanese people are active in Hong Kong," Nakayama told reporters after the meeting. "We asked for appropriate and timely action to protect our citizens."

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