Japan’s Kishida says he has no plans to attend Beijing Olympics

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday he had no plans to attend the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, while suggesting he was still considering various options regarding the diplomatic boycott of the games led by United States.

“At the moment, I have no plans to attend,” Kishida told parliament when asked if he would be traveling to China for the February Games by Shinkun Haku, a lawmaker in the main. opposition party, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

But Kishida went on to say, “It is important to make a judgment on my own at the appropriate time after comprehensively considering various issues in consideration of the national interest.”

Kishida’s remarks at the House of Advisors budget committee meeting came after the United States announced it was not sending officials to the games as criticism escalated over China’s record in human rights.

So far, the diplomatic boycott has been joined by various countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada, while France said last week it would not boycott the event in breach of the EU. other industrialized countries of the Group of Seven. Paris is expected to host the Summer Games in 2024.

In addition, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday expressed his willingness to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a meeting of the parliamentary committee on Thursday. | KYODO

Japan, a close ally of the United States that depends heavily on China economically, is considering not sending cabinet ministers to the Beijing Olympics.

Various options are being considered, including sending Seiko Hashimoto, Member of the Upper House and chair of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee, or Japanese Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita, according to government and party sources. in power.

In the same parliamentary session on Thursday, Kishida said Japan will maintain its current strict border control measures against the omicron variant of the coronavirus until the risks associated with the variant become more predictable.

Earlier this month, Japan closed its borders to all newcomers, except Japanese citizens and foreign residents, as a precaution against the spread of the omicron variant.

“We must continue to take cautious action against unknown risks,” Kishida said.

On other matters, Kishida gave instructions for a third-party investigation into the government’s overestimation of data on construction orders that lasted for about eight years, a practice that may have led to an error in the calculation of construction orders. gross domestic product figures of the country.

It was revealed that the Ministry of Lands, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism had since 2013 double-counted some data it received from companies when compiling its monthly construction order figures.

Kishida said members of the investigative panel included a former prosecutor and lawyer as well as a statistics specialist. The panel will compile its findings within a month.

Ministry officials continued to revise order data from January 2020 to March this year, even after Japan’s Audit Council told the ministry that this was inappropriate practice.

Lands Minister Tetsuo Saito defended the move, saying it aimed to ensure “the continuity of existing statistical practice and that it was statistically significant.”

Economic Revitalization Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa said the completed data was not directly used to calculate GDP and he expects their impact to be minor even though it has had some influence on figures.

Regarding the government’s decision to pay damages to the wife of a former finance ministry bureaucrat who alleges her husband committed suicide after being ordered to falsify documents relating to allegations of favoritism against former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Kishida said the government “has done everything it can” in response. scandalous.

In June of this year, the government disclosed a file suggesting that a former senior ministry official had tasked a local finance office to amend documents.

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