Japan avoids criticizing China over Hong Kong student’s death ahead of planned Xi visit next year

Japan has avoided directly criticizing China over the death of a student in Hong Kong amid protests, ahead of a planned visit to Japan next year by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Xi is scheduled to visit Japan as a state guest next spring. The Japanese government hopes to ensure that the visit goes ahead as smoothly as possible.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Friday reiterated Tokyo’s call for self-restraint and dialogue to peacefully resolve months of unrest in Hong Kong at an early date, following the death of the university student, who fell in a multistory parking garage during anti-government protests there.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi signaled at a separate news conference that Tokyo is looking to keep relations with Beijing on track, despite the death.

“Self-control and peaceful dialogue are helpful. It wouldn’t be beneficial to say anything further,” Motegi said.

In a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang near Bangkok on Monday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the prosperity of a free and open Hong Kong is extremely important under the policy of “one country, two systems.”

Hong Kong has been hit by anti-government demonstrations initially sparked by a bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. The bill was formally withdrawn late last month.

A 22-year-old Hong Kong university student, who had been in critical condition after falling in the parking garage during anti-government protests, died Friday, local media reported.

Protesters say police fired tear gas to disperse them and the college student reportedly fell to the second from the third floor of the parking garage while trying to avoid it Monday.

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