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Thousands march in Tokyo to protest Myanmar coup, biggest Japan demonstration so far

·2 min read

TOKYO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Thousands of mostly silentdemonstrators paraded through central Tokyo on Sunday in protestagainst the coup in Myanmar, many carrying photos of detainedleader Aung San Suu Kyi in what organisers said was the largestsuch march in Japan to date.

More than 4,000 took part in the protest, organisers said,streaming through the downtown shopping areas of Shibuya andOmotesando with posters saying "Help us save Myanmar" and "StopCrimes Against Humanity". Tokyo police said they couldn'tcomment on how many people attended the event.

The march came as tens of thousands took to the streets ofMyanmar on Sunday in a ninth straight day of protests. Severaldemonstrations have been held in Japan since the Feb. 1 coup,mainly by Myanmar residents of Japan.

While the detention of elected leader Suu Kyi is currentlydue to end on Monday, the coup has been denounced by Westerncountries, with the United States announcing some sanctions onthe ruling generals. While other countries also consideringmeasures, Japan and some other Asian nations are unlikely to cutties given Myanmar's strategic importance in the region.

"It is very heart-rending," said Thant Zaw Htun, 45,originally from Yangon and now an employee at a recruitmentagency, referring to the protests in Myanmar.

"I want to go back to Myanmar to join them but cannotbecause of the situation (travel ban due to the coronaviruspandemic). Instead, I join here today to do what I can do."

While some carried portraits of Suu Kyi, others wore facemasks and even earrings bearing Suu Kyi's image. Most remainedsilent rather than shout slogans as they marched in an effort toprevent spread of the coronavirus.

"As a Myanmar national, I absolutely cannot accept themilitary's coup in Myanmar," said Thwe Thwe Tun, 27, who worksat a construction company.

"I think all Myanmar people in Japan have the same opinion."(Reporting by Hideto Sakai; Writing by Elaine Lies; Editing byKenneth Maxwell)