Japanese city councillor, criticized by Beijing for supporting HK democratic candidate, blocked from entering city

Kenichiro Wada via the subject’s Facebook account

Reigniting concerns about politically-motivated refusals by Hong Kong’s immigration department, a Japanese city councillor previously criticized by Beijing officials has been denied entry to the city.

Wada Kenichiro, a city councillor of Shiroi city in Chiba Prefecture, was turned back after arriving at Hong Kong International Airport last night, according to a post on his Facebook page.

Kenichiro wrote that, after he landed, he was taken to a special room by more than 10 immigration officers. He said he was given no reason for his refusal.

He, however, noted reports by the pro-Beijing Hong Kong newspaper the Wen Wei Post and other media, which attacked him after he came to the city earlier in the year to support Au Nok-hin, a pro-democratic candidate who was running in the Legco by election in March. The Wen Wei Post called him “anti-China” and pro-Taiwan.

At the time, an official for China’s Ministry of Foreign affairs also criticized Wada.

“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 official said at the time, noting a complaint had been lodged 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.”

In his Facebook post, Wada said he hoped the “misunderstanding” about the “false reports” could be resolved.

“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,” he wrote.

Wada’s refusal comes several months after the city’s immigration officers refused entry to British activist Benedict Rogers, who had criticized the jailing of democracy campaigners in Hong Kong.

In response to the outcry, a Beijing Foreign Ministry spokeswoman asserted that the central government had the right to say “who can get in and who cannot.”

Hong Kong is theoretically responsible for its own immigration affairs under the “one country, two systems” formula that underpins the city’s autonomy.

However, several activists critical of the Chinese Communist Party — including figures from Taiwan — have been refused entry to the city, sparking accusations of a secret “blacklist.”

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