Novelist Haruki Murakami sent a message of encouragement to Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters in an acceptance speech at an awards ceremony in Berlin, comparing them to former East Germany residents confined by the Berlin Wall and Palestinians trapped by the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Murakami is the first Japanese author to win the Welt Literature Prize (Welt Literaturpreis) from German newspaper Die Welt since the award was established in 1999.

Accepting the award on Friday, he spoke of his own memories of the Berlin Wall prior to its fall 25 years ago this weekend, and attributed ongoing conflicts throughout the world to a system of walls that drive people apart based on intolerance, greed and fear.