A Japanese city councillor was denied entry to Hong Kong on Thursday night months after Beijing attacked him for supporting a local pro-democracy activist during a recent election.
Wada Kenichiro, a city councillor of Shiroi city in Chiba Prefecture, said on his Facebook account that more than ten immigration officers took him to a special room at Hong Kong’s airport after he landed. He said he was not given a reason for the denial of entry.
“If it was related to false reports about me in Wen Wei Po and others – which caused the Hong Kong government to think I am the enemy – it would be very unfortunate. I believe we can resolve this misunderstanding someday,” Wada said.
Lawmaker Au Nok-hin said Wada planned to travel in Hong Kong for two days.
According to Au, Wada said he was asked two questions in detention. He was asked which places he had visited in Hong Kong in the past, and the reason why the hotel number he provided was not reachable.
Au said he did not know what Wada said in reply, but the questioning was short, before Wada was denied entry.
Au also said Wada asked for a translator and contact with the Japanese Consulate in Hong Kong, but he was denied both.
“Hong Kong government, or the Immigration Department, should explain the reason for denial of entry clearly to the public and the international world,” Au said. “If it is a political reason, it will be very disappointing… it will be harming the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle, and Hong Kong’s image as an international city.”
Wada, who studied in Taiwan, was criticised by the pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po in March on the grounds that he was an anti-China, pro-Taiwan independence.
The report came after Wada’s trip to Hong Kong in support of Au Nok-hin, who was running in the March by-election representing the pro-democracy camp.
At the time, the Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong also criticised Wada, when asked to comment by Wen Wei Po. The Office said that Wada held “a mask with words ‘Victory for (candidate’s name)’” on it.
“This act is an open intervention in the Hong Kong SAR’s elections, recklessly violating the international law and norms governing international relations, and grossly interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s domestic affairs. The Chinese side expresses our indignation and firm opposition to such [a] move,” the Office said.
“We have already lodged a stern representation with the Consulate General of Japan in Hong Kong. Our warning to the persons involved is that China is firmly against interference in Hong Kong’s affairs by any foreign government, institution or individual in whatever way. This red line shall not be crossed.”
— 和田健一郎 ついに一陸技最終合格！ (@KenWada) June 15, 2017
Demosisto party Secretary-General Joshua Wong said Wada was unreasonably barred from Hong Kong, months after the denial of entry of Benedict Rogers, deputy chair of UK Conservatives’ Human Rights Commission.
“It is a clear act to block healthy interaction with international political and civil society figures,” Wong said.
“The constant move to bar political figures from other countries without reason puts shame upon Hong Kong’s international image. Did the Hong Kong government receive political pressure to put people – who the Chinese Communist Party does not welcome – onto a blacklist, after the foreign ministry’s office in Hong Kong publicly criticised Mr Wada?” he added.