Doubts have been raised over the future of the statues of two “comfort women” placed near the Japanese consulate in Central.
Protesters want the statues, remembering Asian women used as sex slaves by the Japanese army during the second world war, to remain until December 13.
However they fear the pair may be removed by then following requests from the consulate to the government on Friday, according to news reports.
“No one from the government has talked to us,” Lo Chau, chairman of the Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands group, said on Saturday.
“If the government interferes, we won’t be able to do much, but that would mean the police would be working for the Japanese government.”
Two uniformed officers and one in plainclothes were seen near the protest. A police spokeswoman said they were there “to ensure public order and safety”, but would not say whether the statues would be removed.
The Sunday Morning Post was unable to reach the consulate for comment.
The statues, of Chinese and Korean women, hold white flowers and have their bare feet on posters of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with the wartime rising sun flag in the background. “We want Japan to admit what they did, apologise and bring justice to the victims,” Lo, 67, said.
The fibreglass statues, each weighing 32 kilograms, were placed on the bridge near Exchange Square on Friday morning to mark the start of hostilities between China and Japan in 1937.
Activists want to take the statues to Taiwan after December 13, and then eventually to other locations.
The day marks the 80th anniversary of the start of the Nanking Massacre, which took place in the city now known as Nanjing.
China says Japanese troops went on to kill 300,000 people and rape 20,000 women, but Japanese nationalists dispute this.
Statues similar to those placed in Central may already be found in other countries, including Germany and South Korea, highlighting the plight of comfort women
Earlier this year, a diplomatic row was sparked between Seoul and Tokyo after protesters placed a comfort woman statue near the Japanese consulate in Busan, South Korea.