Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and President Joe Biden will express their deep concern about human rights violations in China in a joint statement to be released after a Japan-U.S. summit next week, Japanese government sources said Saturday.
The summit, scheduled for Friday in Washington, comes as the Biden administration ramps up criticism of China's treatment of the Muslim Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang region and actions concerning Hong Kong. Suga has said those issues must be addressed based on basic human rights principles.
It would be rare for Japanese and U.S. leaders to single out human rights issues in China in a joint statement. Tokyo and Washington are now arranging the wording of the planned statement.
It is almost certain that China would express strong protest against such a statement as interference in its domestic affairs.
While the United States and Europe have imposed sanctions on China over the Uyghur issue, Japan remains cautious about following suit. Suga will likely brief Biden on Tokyo's stance in the meeting.
They are also expected to agree on the importance of ensuring peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, where tensions are rising.
Suga has underscored the need for Japan and the United States to cooperate to maintain deterrence and create an environment where Taiwan and China can resolve their differences peacefully.
As part of increased vigilance against China's maritime assertiveness, the joint statement will also affirm the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea fall under the scope of a Japan-U.S. security treaty, according to the sources.
Suga and Biden are expected to make clear Article 5 of the 1960 security treaty, which states the United States will defend territories under Japan's administration from armed attack, applies to the group of islets.
The uninhabited islands are controlled by Japan but claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu and frequently sends coast guard ships nearby to assert its ownership.