A few thousand Myanmar residents in Japan took to the streets Sunday to call on their host country to recognize the National Unity Government, an organization set up in opposition to the Feb. 1 military coup, as Myanmar's legitimate governing body.
While chanting for Japan to recognize the NUG and cut ties with the junta as they marched in central Tokyo, similar events took place in South Korea and Taiwan and were scheduled in the United States, Britain and other European countries in what participants called "Global Myanmar Spring Revolution Day."
Clad in black clothes and wearing black face masks, the participants painted three fingers of both hands in red to symbolize the blood of about 750 peaceful demonstrators and other citizens killed, according to an activist monitoring group, by security forces in Myanmar.
"Free, free our leaders," they chanted, in reference to detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior members of her party, the National League for Democracy. "Recognize, recognize the NUG."
Launched April 16 by NLD parliamentarians, anti-coup protest leaders and representatives of ethnic minority groups, the NUG is demanding that the junta immediately cease its violent crackdowns on protestors, release Suu Kyi and other detainees, and restore the democratically elected government.
"We, the young people of Myanmar, took the lead in holding anti-junta demonstrations around the world today," said a 28-year-old woman, one of the organizers in the Tokyo event who only wants to be identified as Swe.
"We would like the Japanese government to take specific action such as suspending all ODA (official development assistance) projects that benefit the Myanmar military," Swe told reporters.
Lae Lae Lwin, 30, a Myanmar nurse working in Japan, said separately that it would not make sense for Japan not to endorse the NUG as the rightful government because Tokyo has condemned the coup and is urging the junta to release Suu Kyi and other detainees and restore Myanmar's democratic political process.
"We would not want Japan to dismiss the will of the Myanmar people," she said. "We want Japan to side with us, not the military."