Two Hong Kong activists who were arrested by Japanese police two weeks ago after they staged a protest at a controversial Tokyo war shrine have been charged with trespassing and will face trial in Japan in February.
The Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, a Hong Kong-based group that stands up for China’s territorial interests against Japan, confirmed on Thursday that two of its members have been formally charged in Japan for their act of protest at the Yasukuni Shrine earlier this month, Apple Daily reports.
The two were charged on Wednesday for trespassing, and a trial is scheduled to begin in February, according to the activist organization.
Kwok Siu-kit and Yim Man-wa entered the Yasukuni Shrine in Chiyoda, central Tokyo on the morning of Dec. 12 to protest against the Japanese occupation of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, called Senkaku Islands in Japan, and the Nanjing Massacre of 1937.
Kwok, 55, stood in front of a gate in the middle of the shrine, in which those who died in the service of Japan during World War II are commemorated, and set fire to a makeshift memorial tablet inscribed with the name of Japan’s wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, who is one of the war criminals commemorated in the Shinto shrine, while Yim stood aside and videotaped the action.
Japanese police arrested the Hong Kong activists soon afterward and they have been detained since.
Now we have news that charges have been officially laid against the duo and that they will face prosecution in a Japanese court.
Following the latest developments, some members of the Hong Kong activist group, along with family members of the two jailed activists, went to the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai on Thursday to appeal for help.
They alleged that the Hong Kong authorities were not doing enough to help the jailed duo in Japan.
The immigration department immediately sent officers over to Japan to visit a senior Hong Kong police official who ran into a car accident in Hokkaido on Tuesday, but failed to offer similar assistance to the detained activists, the group said, accusing the department of double standards.
Kwok’s daughter revealed that her father has gone on hunger strike since Sunday in protest against his treatment by Japanese police and that he was sent to hospital on Wednesday for a health check.
Calling the authorities unfair, they expressed that since the department immediately sent officers over to visit a senior police official who ran into a car accident in Hokkaido on Tuesday, the detained duo should have received the same treatment because they are also Hongkongers.
Kwok’s daughter revealed that he has gone on hunger strike since Sunday in protest against his treatment by Japanese police and was sent to hospital on Wednesday for a health check.
Joining the group, Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin, who has been providing follow-up assistance, said the situation is now serious as the duo is being prosecuted.
The families want to go to Japan to visit the defendants, Wan said, calling on authorities to provide the necessary assistance.
Au Pak-kuen, vice-chair of the action committee, criticized the Immigration Department, saying it had not offered any help in the case but merely provided a list of Japanese lawyers.
If the department’s attitude remains unchanged, the activist organization will consider launching a fundraising campaign to help the families organize a legal team in Japan, Au said.
The department, meanwhile, claimed that it has been in touch with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong, the Chinese Embassy in Japan and the affected families since the incident took place.
The Chinese embassy in Tokyo had sent staff to visit the arrested Hongkongers as many as four times, the department claimed.
As for the families’ request of sending staff to accompany them to Japan, the department said it will seriously consider the matter.
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