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International relations

China tells Japan's PM candidates not to meddle in internal affairs

Kishida raises human rights issues while Takaichi vows to visit war-linked shrine

Beijing does not want to see Japan's PM candidates bringing up China's internal affairs. 

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- China on Tuesday urged candidates for Japan's next prime minister not to interfere in the country's internal affairs, a day after one of them pledged to create a new key post to tackle its alleged human rights violations.

"China's internal affairs cannot allow any foreign interference. Japanese politicians should stop making an issue out of China," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party is scheduled to hold its leadership race on Sept. 29 to pick the successor to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the current LDP head who announced his intention to step down earlier this month.

The LDP presidential election now appears to be a three-way contest between vaccination minister Taro Kono, former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and former communications minister Sanae Takaichi.

Kishida said Monday that he will set up the post of special adviser to the prime minister on human rights issues if elected, apparently aiming to counter China's alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and its crackdown on Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.

Meanwhile, Takaichi, the only female candidate so far, has vowed to continue visiting Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo even if she becomes prime minister, which would spark criticism from China and South Korea as they see it as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

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