HK marks Japan defeat with protests


HONG KONG, AP

Protesters demanded that Japan exchange 60-year-old military-issued money on Sunday, while veterans mourned fallen comrades who died defending Hong Kong during World War II.

As the Chinese territory marked the 59th anniversary of Japan’s Second World War defeat, about 230 people marched peacefully to the Japanese consulate, demanding it exchange military notes — issued during its 1941-1945 occupation of Hong Kong — for local currency, protest organizer Ng Yat-hing said.

Ng claimed the decades-old money is held by some 3,500 families, and has a total current value of about 11 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$1.41 billion). There was no way to confirm the claim, and calls to the Japanese Consulate General went unanswered Sunday.

Police didn’t have an estimate for the size of the protest.

War veterans, meanwhile, honored fallen soldiers who died fending off the Japanese invasion — a battle in which 289 volunteers were either killed or went missing, according to RHKR The Volunteers Association. The veterans laid wreaths at a downtown shrine as bagpipes played.

Hong Kong suffered three years and eight months under Japanese rule. U.S. and Allied planes bombed the territory, then a British colony.

The mainland Chinese government condemned Sunday the visit to a controversial war shrine by three members of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s cabinet.