TOKYO - Some 500 people on Monday staged a silent protest in Tokyo against the bloodshed in Gaza, the biggest such gathering in the Japanese capital since the violence began early this month, organisers said.
As night fell, demonstrators holding candles formed huge letters spelling "Gaza" in a city park, and offered a one-minute prayer for victims of the violence in the Palestinian territory.
Some waved Palestinian flags while others carried signs reading: "Stop the killing in Gaza. Japan cares." "We want people in Gaza to know that they are not isolated from the world," said Sonoko Kawakami, one of the organisers.
"Gaza is far from Japan, but we are going to continue to do whatever we can do here." Leading members of the Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Jewish faiths delivered brief messages calling for an end to the violence.
The Palestinian death toll in Gaza has now topped 500, many of them civilians. Israel said 18 of its soldiers had been killed, its heaviest losses in eight years, along with two civilians.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrations have been held in recent weeks in cities across Europe, along with smaller protests in Asia.
In France they have spiralled into violent clashes with riot police, leading to dozens of arrests.