Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on Thursday to show support for those in Hong Kong speaking out against a controversial extradition bill that has sparked street protests that have turned violent.
The organizer said more than 300 people joined the rally in Tokyo.
A massive protest took place in Hong Kong on Sunday over a bill introduced by pro-Beijing leaders that would allow extraditions to mainland China.
Debate over the bill was postponed again after protesters surrounded the city’s Legislative Council on Thursday.
In Tokyo, hundreds gathered in front of the Hong Kong government building, with signs in hand and the Japanese and Hong Kong flags blowing in the wind together, to support those fighting to stop the bill.
“Many of my friends in Hong Kong have gotten hurt at the protests. It’s unbearable to watch. I had to do something about it,” said Mandy Tang, 19, an exchange student from Hong Kong who started studying at a Japanese-language school in Tokyo in September. “Everyone is fighting back home so I will, too.”
The protests on Thursday resulted largely from collaboration between individuals on Instagram, Facebook and other social media networks. People in Hong Kong and abroad are communicating through Facebook groups, where photographs can be seen of people wearing white ribbons to show solidarity with the protesters.
Tang herself spent most of the night on Wednesday cutting, folding and pinning 96 of these ribbons. She handed them to other protesters on Thursday.
“Hong Kong is dangerous right now but I want to go home,” she said. “I want to fight with my friends.”
The protest Thursday at the Hong Kong government building was followed by another demonstration in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. Both events, according to Mitsuhiro Hayashida, 27, were born on social media.
“There are no organizers, more like a series of tweets and Instagram posts that eventually led to this protest,” Hayashida said.
“People my age are spilling blood fighting against police for their freedom,” he said. “What we can do here in Japan is show them that they’re not alone.”