While the world focuses on the detention and release of Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai, it’s the plight of 23-year-old activist Agnes Chow that has made the battle over human rights in the city personal for many in Japan.

Chow, a Japanese speaker who helped galvanize support for the pro-democracy movement, has been dubbed "the goddess of democracy” by local media, in a reference to a statue created by protesters at Tiananmen Square.

The activist’s arrest was front page news in local papers Tuesday and the hashtag #FreeAgnes trended on Japanese Twitter. TV showed a masked and bespectacled Chow being pushed into a van and driven away in the dark.