Activists Alex Kwok Siu-kit and Yim Man-wa were detained last month in Japan following a protest at Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine.
In a video shot by Yim, Kwok held a banner demanding Japan take responsibility for the Nanjing massacre, and lit a prop spirit tablet of Tojo Hideki – a general of the Imperial Japanese Army, whose spirit is honoured at the shrine.
The fire was quickly extinguished, with no reports of any damage or injuries. Kwok and Yim were then arrested, and subsequently charged with trespassing. They could be held in Japan until their potential trial in February.
Both are members of Hong Kong-based activist group Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands. The group asserts Chinese sovereignty over the uninhabited, Japanese-controlled islands – also known as the Senkaku Islands.
Bull Tsang, convener of the Action Committee, said on Saturday that each will need to hand in five million Japanese Yen – around HK$350,000 each – for bail, citing the pair’s lawyer. They also need a local Japanese person to act as personal surety.
But Tsang said the Action Committee only has around HK$70,000 in funds, and is asking for donations.
“We are pessimistic and are experiencing headaches, but we are trying to secure the funds,” he said.
Tsang said that even if Kwok and Yim are released on bail, they will not be allowed to leave Japan until the hearing for the case finishes around early April.
Kwok’s daughter and Yim’s mother arrived in Tokyo on Saturday morning, accompanied by a Hong Kong Immigration Department officer, in an attempt to visit them in detention.
“I am furious that Japan has lengthened their detention and stalled in filing their prosecution. I hope the Immigration Department can contact the Chinese [embassy] and rescue them,” Kwok’s daughter said.
According to the Action Committee’s Vice-Chair Au Pak-kuen, Kwok’s daughter and Yim’s mother were held at the Narita International Airport for questioning for three hours, while their belongings were being checked thoroughly.
“They were making a verbal promise that they will not disrupt public security in Japan, and asked to sign papers promising that they will not participate in [anti-Japan] actions,” Au said.
Kwok’s daughter and Yim’s mother then met with a Japanese volunteer lawyer, accompanied by officers of the Chinese embassy and the Hong Kong Immigration Department, Au said.