A day after Chinese authorities arrested a Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon, prominent activist and a handful of others in a sweeping crackdown on dissent, Japan's top government spokesman on Tuesday reiterated Tokyo's grave concern about turmoil in the city but did not ramp up pressure over the issue, instead sticking to well-worn diplomatic language.

At a news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga did not directly address a question about the arrests of Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai, activist Agnes Chow and the others in one of the most massive crackdowns since Beijing imposed a security law on the city. Instead, Suga merely repeated the government’s boilerplate statement that Tokyo remains “gravely concerned” about the situation in Hong Kong, which he said Japan regards as a “very important partner” in terms of economic and personal exchanges.

The 23-year-old Chow, who speaks fluent Japanese and is popular in Japan, was among a group of prominent pro-democracy activists who earlier this year urged Tokyo to rethink a planned visit to the country by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The visit was originally set for March but has been delayed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.