Japanese politician Kenichiro Wada, previously criticized by Beijing for showing support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, said Friday he was barred from entering Hong Kong the previous day.
“I arrived at the Hong Kong airport at around 10 p.m. Thursday,” Wada told Kyodo News. “About 10 immigration officials came to check my passport and took me to a separate room. Soon after, they put me on a plane bound for Japan via Taiwan.”
Wada, a city assembly member from Shiroi in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo, posted on his Facebook and Twitter accounts a portion of a notice apparently issued by the Immigration Department stating Wada was refused entry to the territory.
Wada said no reason was given for barring him from entering Hong Kong. He also dismissed as inaccurate reports by pro-Beijing dailies concerning his alleged meddling in Hong Kong politics.
“News reports by the likes of Wenweipo about my campaigning for pro-democracy activist Au Nok-hin in Hong Kong in a March by-election were untrue. We had met and I gave him a Daruma doll (to wish him victory), but I had not gone on stage or participated in any high-profile campaigning activities,” Wada said.
Wada said he came this time as a tourist and had thought about meeting with Au privately.
The Immigration Department said it “does not comment on individual cases,” but said every case involving deciding whether to approve or decline entry is made according to the law and immigration policies.
Wada’s presence in Hong Kong to support Au in his bid in the Legislative Council by-election in March drew criticism from Beijing.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong called Wada’s campaigning for Au “blatant meddling in Hong Kong’s election, reckless trampling on international law and rude interference in Hong Kong and China’s internal affairs.”
Au, who won the by-election, said Wada was denied an interpreter or consular access while being detained briefly this week.
“Wada could be barred because of his political views,” Au told reporters. “It is worrisome that Hong Kong is cutting itself off from the international community, that the government is trying to stop the exchange between civil societies in Hong Kong and global communities and to suppress freedom of speech.”
Other foreign politicians have also been barred from entering Hong Kong.
Benedict Rogers, the deputy chair of the British Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission who has criticized China’s encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy and championed the cause of the city’s pro-democracy activists, was denied entry — without any reason given — when arriving from Thailand last October.
The ban imposed on Wada “has renewed concerns that Hong Kong is under pressure to bar visitors deemed unacceptable to Beijing,” Hong Kong Watch, a group co-founded by Rogers, said on its Facebook account.
“This is yet another encroachment by Beijing into Hong Kong’s autonomy, an intrusion into Hong Kong’s immigration policy, and one more example of the erosion of freedom and the undermining of one country, two systems.”