HONG KONG – Two Hong Kong activists who were arrested by Japanese police for trespassing after staging a protest at the Yasukuni Shrine two weeks ago will be prosecuted in Japan in February, a local legislator said Thursday.
Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan, who has been following the pair’s case, told reporters that the Japanese lawyer representing Kwok Siu-kit and Yim Man-wa confirmed that they have been formally charged for trespassing on private property and will appear in court in February.
Kwok, who according to his daughter Tanya was sent to a hospital early Thursday for a checkup after staging a hunger strike since Sunday, and Yim have been detained by police since the Dec. 12 protest.
On that day, Kwok was seen in a video clip uploaded online standing at the shrine’s entrance next to a burning makeshift memorial tablet with the name of Japan’s wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, who is enshrined at Yasukuni, written on it. He was shouting “Down to militarism! Forget not the Nanjing Massacre! Japan must apologize!” before being subdued by guards.
Yim, a journalist who filmed Kwok’s actions, was arrested along with him.
The shrine honors convicted war criminals along with millions of war dead and is often seen as a symbol of Japan’s militarist past by neighboring countries including China and South Korea.
Visits by Japan’s leaders have drawn outcry from those that suffered under Japanese occupation or colonialism before and during World War II.
The pair’s family members pleaded for assistance with Hong Kong’s Immigration Department on Thursday, after their request to China’s Foreign Ministry Commissioner’s Office on Monday went unanswered.
China’s Foreign Ministry has called on Japan to ensure the legal interests of the duo.