News about Japan’s supposed refusal to sign a joint statement denouncing China over the national security law in Hong Kong was widely reported on Sunday.
The statement, which was signed by the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Australia on May 28, raised concerns the Beijing-imposed law would “curtail the Hong Kong people’s liberties, and in doing so, dramatically erode Hong Kong’s autonomy and the system.”
In their reports, media organizations around the world including Reuters, RTHK, the Japan Times and Bloomberg quoted an exclusive story by Kyodo News Agency that said the Japanese government declined to put its name on the statement.
The news gained a lot of attention on social media on Monday partly because former A.C.Milan football star Keisuke Honda commented on the news in a tweet. He criticized the Japanese government and asked for an explanation for “sacrificing Hong Kong’s democratization.”
Honda has more than one million followers and his tweet gained close to 50,000 likes, 3,200 comments and 18,000 retweets. It was also discussed by local media in Hong Kong.
However, the original Kyodo story could be misleading. It was based on anonymous diplomatic sources and has not been corroborated by anyone else.
In fact, on May 28, the same day China’s National People’s Congress passed the resolution to draft and impose the law in Hong Kong, and the same day the joint statement was signed by the other countries, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs quickly released a statement saying the county is “seriously concerned about the decision.”
Also on May 28, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga reiterated in a press conference that Japan has “grave concerns” over China’s decision.
The joint statement in question was primarily discussed among the “Five Eyes” nations that have an intelligence-sharing agreement (the U.S, the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), which Japan is not a part of. (In the end New Zealand decided not to sign it, according to the Diplomat.)
On Monday, Suga was asked about Kyodo’s news report in a press briefing, and said Japan made its stance on Hong Kong clear early on and that the government was “closely collaborating with the G7 nations.”
Reuters reported that Japan hopes to draft another joint statement on the security legislation on Hong Kong at the next G7 foreign ministers’ meeting.