Japan PM Kishida to appoint ex-defence chief human rights aide

FILE PHOTO: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a news conference at the prime minister
FILE PHOTO: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a news conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan October 14, 2021. Eugene Hoshiko/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese former defence minister who is in favour of introducing a law to punish foreign violators of human rights is to be appointed the prime minister's aide on rights, a cabinet official said on Monday.

New Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said Japan should stand firm for democracy in the Chinese-ruled city of Hong Kong and that he supported a parliamentary resolution condemning China's treatment of members of its Uyghur Muslim minority.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki, asked about a meeting earlier in the day between Kishida and a former defence minister amid speculation he would become the prime minister's aide on rights, said arrangements were being made to appoint Gen Nakatani to the post on Wednesday.

Nakatani, 64, wants to introduce a Japanese version of the U.S. Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law that allows punishment of foreign human rights violators with U.S. asset freezes and bans on travel to the United States.

"As lawmaker, I've been tackling a fair amount of human rights issues. I'd like to try and make appropriate advice based on my knowledge and experience," Nakatani told reporters following his meeting with Kishida.

Close U.S. ally Japan has been taking a more assertive stand on China in recent months as relations between China and the United States have become strained over various disagreements.

Chinese authorities have been accused of facilitating forced labour by detaining about a million Uyghurs and other primarily Muslim minorities in camps since 2016. China denies wrongdoing, saying it has set up vocational training centres to combat Islamist militancy.

Nakatani's appointment is set for Wednesday, when parliament will hold a special session to re-elect Kishida as prime minister following an Oct. 31 election victory by his ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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