TOKYO – Japan’s foreign minister has called on his Chinese counterpart to take action to improve human rights conditions for Uighurs and end repression in Hong Kong, according to an official Japanese bill for talks between officials.
The unusually strong message from Tokyo comes shortly before Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga travels to the United States for a summit with President Biden on April 16.
Japan is usually worried about angering Beijing, which is its biggest trading partner. Tokyo is a close ally of Washington, but did not join the United States and several other countries in March, imposing sanctions on China for its crackdown on the predominantly Muslim Uighur majority.
During a 90-minute phone call Monday, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi also expressed concern to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi about the continued presence of armed Chinese coast guard ships around islands in the East China Sea controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing.
In a statement after the call, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that Mr. Wang opposed Japanese intervention on issues related to the Xinjiang region, where human rights groups claim to repress Uighurs, and Hong Kong, and called on Japan to respect China̵