The Japanese Communist Party (JCP) has doubled down on its efforts to distance itself from its erstwhile ideological ally in Beijing, refusing to congratulate the Chinese Communist Party on the centenary of its founding on July 1. Instead, JCP chairman Kazuo Shii used the anniversary to lambast China’s government in a series of tweets. He cited Beijing’s “aggressive” territorial claims and described its treatment of Hong Kong and the Uygur Muslim minority in its westernmost province of Xinjiang as “human rights violations”. “[These] have nothing to do with socialism and are not worthy of the name of a communist party,” he wrote. The LDP and the other parties do not really care about human rights or many of these other issues JCP spokesman Toshio Ueki “How can we describe their behaviour in the East China Sea and the South China Sea without calling it ‘supremacy’? What do you call human rights violations against the people of Hong Kong and the Uygurs if not ‘power politics’? “ China must comply with international law; it is important that the international community makes that demand,” he said. Beijing maintains that the national security law imposed in Hong Kong last year after anti-government protests was necessary to maintain stability, while its policies in Xinjiang are designed to fight extremism and reduce poverty in the region. Xi Jinping: China’s goals are within reach and we won’t be bullied Hiromi Murakami, a professor of political science at the Tokyo campus of Temple University, said Shii’s comments were “very surprising because they were so blunt”. “It is interesting that they have not been afraid to speak up on these issues and let the party in China know that despite having ‘communist’ in both their names, they do not intend to shy away and not say the hard things that need to be said,” she added. The JCP’s stance, coming after it redrew its party platform last year for the first time in 16 years to differentiate it from the Chinese party, made it the only major political party in Japan that refrained from sending congratulatory messages to the Chinese Communist Party. In contrast, Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the other key parties in the Diet all sent messages, though the Japanese government itself held back from doing so, unlike other Asian governments and leaders. Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato instead told a press conference late last week that “stable Japan-China relations are important for the peace and prosperity of not only our two countries but also the region and the international community”. The foreign ministry declined to comment on the decision not to send a message, but a senior official was quoted by the Yomiuri newspaper as saying that congratulating the Communist Party “could send the wrong signal” to Beijing. Toshio Ueki, a spokesman for the JCP, told This Week in Asia that they had not heard from the Communist Party in response to the snub. He added there had been hope that other Japanese parties might choose not to congratulate Beijing. “But the LDP and the other parties do not really care about human rights or many of these other issues,” he said. The LDP’s congratulatory message was sent in the name of party secretary general Toshihiro Nikai, the Mainichi newspaper reported, with a source quoting him as saying that sending a message was “common practice” and that “it would have been strange not to send one”. Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of the LDP’s political ally Komeito, told a press conference that a party marking 100 years is an unusual occurrence. “We hope the party will work harder to achieve global peace, development and stability.” The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition force, sent a congratulatory message in the name of its leader, Yukio Edano, although he admitted at a media conference, “I don’t think we can celebrate the occasion without having reservations under the current circumstances”. Japan and China disagree over the sovereignty of islands in the East China Sea that Beijing claims as the Diaoyu Islands but which Tokyo controls and refers to as the Senkaku Islands. Tokyo has criticised Beijing’s unilateral occupation and militarisation of islands in the South China Sea that are also claimed by a number of neighbouring nations, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. Japan is also actively attempting to build a security alliance of nations in the region and further afield to counter what is widely seen as Beijing’s efforts to extend its military and political reach.