File photo: Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Photograph:( Reuters )
Hong Kongers have been protesting against Chinese interference in the city's affairs
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently said that Hong Kong should ''continue to be free and open''. The city has been rocked by pro-democracy protests over the last few months.
The Japanese PM recently met Chinese President Xi Jinping before attending a trilateral meeting, which will also be attended by the South Korean president Moon Jae-in.
In a press briefing after the Xi-Abe meeting, Otaka Masato, spokesman for the Japanese minister of foreign affairs, said Abe "urged China to continue its self-restraint" over Hong Kong and expressed "hope for an early resolution of the situation".
The two leaders also discussed North Korea and the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, the spokesman said, and Xi "asked for support" for a joint China-Russia draft UN resolution which proposed easing sanctions against the nuclear-armed state.
"Mr Abe reiterated that he is very much concerned about the situation...(and) mentioned that under the 'one country, two systems', Hong Kong should continue to be free and open and to be able to enjoy its development," said Otaka.
Hong Kongers have been protesting against Chinese interference in the city's affairs. The city, as per the ''One country, two systems'' scheme was guaranteed freedoms when the British left in 1997.
China says it is committed to the “one country, two systems” formula put in place.
Instances of police brutality have been causing a major uproar, with many demanding an independent investigation into it. The police have consistently denied using excessive force.
Earlier on Sunday, more than 1,000 people rallied in support of China's ethnic Uighur Muslims, who have been detained en masse in camps in China's northwestern Xinjiang region.
Beijing and Hong Kong's government have made clear any call for independence would never be tolerated.
"Advocating Hong Kong independence ... is not conducive to the overall and long term interest of Hong Kong society. It is also contrary to the established basic policies of the People's Republic of China regarding Hong Kong," the city government said in a statement overnight.
The protests, which are now running into its six month, have become less violent and organised. Since June this year, more than 6,000 people have been arrested.
According to the Japanese spokesman, Xi replied to Abe's comments on Hong Kong by repeating China's position that Hong Kong "is a domestic matter".