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Politics

Suga pressed to condemn US Capitol assault

Members of Japan's ruling LDP urge prime minister to join global leaders

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6: Many blame Trump for inciting violence through repeated, baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential race.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Members of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to speak out against the deadly Jan. 6 riot in Washington, where supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building.

The LDP's Foreign Affairs Division received a briefing on the incident from the Foreign Ministry that day. One member said during the briefing that "Suga needs to send a message denouncing the incident," division chief Masahisa Sato told reporters afterward.

"Our ally is facing a massive issue," another lawmaker reportedly said. "We need to make it clear that something like this should never happen."

Suga did not directly address the riot when speaking with reporters on Friday, saying only that he wanted "U.S. citizens to come together" under President-elect Joe Biden.

"I was extremely disappointed by the incident, considering the world views the U.S. as setting an example for democracy," he later said Sunday in an appearance on state broadcaster NHK.

But LDP members are calling for a stronger rebuke. "A message by the prime minister needs to be prepared, including on Twitter," one lawmaker told foreign ministry officials at Wednesday's briefing.

Many foreign leaders have already spoken out against the uprising, which has only highlighted Suga's reticence.

"Insofar as [Trump] encouraged people to storm the Capitol and insofar as the president consistently has cast doubt on the outcome of a free and fair election, I believe that that was completely wrong," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said pictures from the riot made her "angry and sad."

"When, in one of the world's oldest democracies, supporters of an outgoing president take up arms to challenge the legitimate results of an election, a universal idea -- that of 'one person, one vote' -- is undermined," French President Emmanuel Macron said in a video message.

Japan's opposition lawmakers have also commented on the assault on the Capitol.

"The incident showed us that even in the U.S., democracy can be threatened unless everybody puts in the work," Constitutional Democratic Party leader Yukio Edano said Sunday.

"Given how leaders all across the world put out statements on the incident, Prime Minister Suga also should have sent out a clear message," CDP policy research chief Kenta Izumi told Nikkei on Wednesday.

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