TOKYO, Oct 14 (Saba) -- Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Thursday the release of the detained Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo is "desirable," but did not issue any formal request to China to free Liu, according to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).
Asked at the Upper House Budget Committee whether Liu should be released, Kan said, "From the viewpoint that universal human rights should be protected across national borders, it is desirable." "I think it is important that human rights and basic freedom, which are universal values, should also be guaranteed in China," Kan said, adding that he will closely watch whether Liu or his wife will be allowed to attend the Nobel Prize award ceremony in Oslo in December. But the premier said Tokyo will not make a direct appeal for Beijing to free him by consideration of bilateral ties, which deteriorated in the aftermath of last month's collisions between Japanese and Chinese vessels. "Japan-China relations are getting back to the basics of a mutually beneficial strategic partnership," he added.
China accused the Norwegian Nobel Committee of honoring Liu, describing him as a criminal sentenced to imprisonment by judicial authorities for violating the law. Liu, 54, was a key leader in the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. He became a lead author of Charter 08, which called for democracy in China and criticized the nation's one-party Communist rule. He was arrested after the Charter was released online, and was sentenced to 11 years in jail on December 25 last year after a Beijing court convicted him of agitation aimed at subverting the government.
Kan's comment comes as Japan is trying to improve ties with China, which have dipped to their lowest point in five years since Japan's arrest of a Chinese trawler captain on Sept. 8 following the collisions near the disputed island chain in the East China Sea claimed by both countries.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku told a press conference that the two countries are arranging a summit between Kan and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit on Oct.28 in the Vietnamese city of Hanoi.