By Linda Sieg
TOKYO, Aug 13 – Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow, released on bail after her arrest under the new National Security Law, has thanked Japanese people for their outpouring of support, urging them to not to forget the city amid a crackdown by Beijing.
Chow, 23, a fluent Japanese speaker dubbed the “goddess of democracy” by Japanese media, and Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai were arrested under the security law on Monday.
The arrest of Chow, who often tweeted in Japanese and appeared in Japanese media, was top news in Japan this week and the hashtag #FreeAgnes trended on Twitter.
“Thank you so much,” Chow said in a brief Japanese-language segment of a Chinese-language video about 24 hours after her release on bail late Tuesday.
“I hope the people of Japan will keep paying attention to Hong Kong,” she added. Parts of the video were aired on NHK public television on Thursday.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, seeking to keep ties with Beijing on an even keel amid an intensifying confrontation between China and the United States, repeated this week that Tokyo was “deeply concerned” about the situation in Hong Kong.
A cross-party group of lawmakers, including members of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party condemned the arrests, urged the government to refuse any requests for evidence based on the security law, and to ease visa restrictions on Hong Kong residents.
Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed government called the group’s statement incorrect and inappropriate.
The crackdown on pro-democracy opposition in Hong Kong has drawn international criticism and raised fears for freedoms promised by Beijing under a “one country, two systems” model.
The city’s government and Chinese authorities say the law is needed to restore order after sometimes violent anti-government protests last year.
Chow last posted on her Japanese-language Twitter account on June 30, saying, “As long as we live, there is hope.”
(Editing by Gerry Doyle)