June 10, 2020 / 1:11 AM / a month ago

Japan wants to take lead for G7 statement on Hong Kong: Abe

FILE PHOTO - Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a news conference on Japan's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Tokyo, Japan May 25, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan wants to take the lead among Group of Seven nations on issuing a statement about the situation in Hong Kong, where China is imposing a new security law, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday.

“Obviously, we acknowledge the G7 has a mission to lead the global public opinion and Japan wants to take a lead in issuing a statement based on ‘one nation, two systems’ in Hong Kong,” Abe told parliament.

Japan had already issued an statement independently expressing serious concern about Beijing’s move on May 28, the day China passed the law, and called in the Chinese ambassador to convey its view.

Tokyo is in a sensitive situation regarding U.S.-China tensions over Hong Kong, as it plans for a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, originally set for April but postponed due to the coronavirus crisis.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters during a daily briefing that Beijing expressed “grave concerns” to Japan about Abe’s remarks and said Hong Kong is “entirely China’s internal affair.”

“The relevant country should abide by international laws and basic principles of international relations,” she said.

The United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada have criticised China for moving to impose the security law on Hong Kong, which they said would breach the 1984 Sino-British agreement on the former colony and threaten its freedoms.

Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; additional reporting by Yew Lun Tian in Beijing; Editing by Chris Gallagher, Gerry Doyle and Kim Coghill

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