Japan’s Foreign Ministry to create post monitoring human rights abuses

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The Foreign Ministry will create a new post for a senior officer overseeing the monitoring of human rights abuses amid a growing global focus on the issue, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi has said.

Hayashi told a news conference Friday that his ministry has included in its budget request for fiscal 2022 starting in April the creation of a new position responsible for dealing with rights violations in its existing Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division.

The creation of the new post comes as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida looks to keep in step with major democratic nations that are locked in an intensifying standoff with China over the alleged repression of Uyghur Muslims in its far-western Xinjiang region and the crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

About two months ago, Kishida named former Defense Minister Gen Nakatani as his special adviser on international human rights issues.

“Japan has been promoting human rights diplomacy, under which we have encouraged nations that are making efforts to protect human rights to make further progress on their own, and the importance (of such diplomacy) has been increasing amid mounting concern over issues of human rights infringement,” Hayashi said.

The foreign minister added that the government also needs to focus on human rights issues in economic activities in the private sector.

The new post is also expected to be involved in policymaking regarding the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s return to power in August.

Europe and the United States have imposed sanctions on China over the Xinjiang issue while Tokyo has been more cautious in its response.

Currently, Japan has no plans for new legislation to allow sanctions on foreign government officials accused of human rights violations similar to the Magnitsky Act in the United States. Britain, Canada and the European Union have already introduced similar laws.

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