Hongkongers gathered at the Sai Wan War Cemetery and the Cenotaph in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Liberation Day on Sunday, despite the absence of official ceremonies since the handover in 1997.

A commemoration ceremony at the Sai Wan War Cemetery was held by local youth organisation Watershed, to pay tribute to soldiers who died during the Second World War and whose remains were buried at the cemetery. The organisation said that more than 300 people attended the event at the cemetery on Cape Collinson Road, Chai Wan.

Commemoration activities at Sai Wan War Cemetery. Photo: Samuel Ng via Facebook.
Sai Wan War Cemetery. Photo: Samuel Ng via Facebook.
Sai Wan War Cemetery. Photo: Samuel Ng via Facebook
Sai Wan War Cemetery. Photo: Samuel Ng via Facebook.

Over a dozen also gathered at the Cenotaph near Statute Square and City Hall in Central and presented flowers in commemoration of those who sacrificed themselves during the Japanese invasion.

Commemoration at the Cenotaph.
1945 Liberation of Hong Kong at the Cenotaph. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Japanese attack on Hong Kong began on December 8, 1941. After an 18-day battle, also known as the Battle of Hong Kong, the Governor of Hong Kong Sir Mark Young surrendered and the Japanese occupation began on December 25, 1941. The occupation lasted three years and eight months, with Japan surrendering on August 15, 1945. On August 30 a Royal Navy fleet entered Victoria Harbour and British control over the colony was restored. This day became “Liberation Day” and was a public holiday until 1997. The holiday was then moved to the third Monday in August and became “Sino-Japanese War Victory Day” but was abolished in 1999.

This year the Legislative Council decided on a one-time holiday on September 3 to mark the 70th anniversary of Japan’s WWII surrender. On Sunday around 200 demonstrators marched to the Japanese Consulate to protest at Japan’s treatment of history, while 800 attended a parade in Tsim Sha Tsui in commemoration of the anniversary of Japan’s surrender.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.