The Japanese Prime Minister, Naoto Kan's statement came during a parliamentary budget committee in which he welcomed the award of the prize to Liu and was also highly critical of China's government. "I think it is important that human rights and fundamental freedoms, which are universal values, should also be guaranteed in China," Mr Kan said. These comments have done little to aid the frail relations between Japan and China who have in the recent weeks been in highly heated disputes over sea fishing territories. Japan now joins an increasing number of countries calling for his release including the Unites States and the European Union.
This comes only a day after 23 Communist Party elders in China wrote a letter to the Chinese Parliament calling for the end of the country's strict restrictions on freedom of speech. The letter stated that although freedom of expression is promised in the Chinese constitution is it not allowed in society.
They have demanded that people should be allowed to freely express themselves on the internet and journalistic medias without fearing governmental reproach. Calling the propaganda department a scandal and an embarrassment they stated "They violate our constitution, often ordering by telephone that the works of such and such a person cannot be published, or that such and such an event cannot be reported in the media".
The 23 signatures included a former personal secretary to the revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, and a former editor of the People's Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper. However, according to reports from within China any media reports on internet chat rooms relating to the letter are already being removed.