Japan has issued its first ever travel warning to Hong Kong since the territory was handed back to China in 1997, amid ongoing anti-government protests.

The warning from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the lowest in a scale of four. It says Japanese nationals should pay attention to the latest situation in the city and stay away from places where demonstrations or clashes take place.

The ministry said there could be protests in hit-and-run style or escalation of clashes, adding that the demonstrations have spread to the airport and some tourist destinations.

Meanwhile Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel waded into the Hong Kong protests for the first time, calling for a dialogue and peaceful resolution.

Merkel commented on the Hong Kong issue while talking to the media in Berlin and said “everything must be done to prevent violence and to find possibilities for a solution within the framework of dialogue”.

She also noted that Hong Kong is guaranteed certain rights under its law and Beijing should ensure that they are not affected.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has also called on the Hong Kong government to resume dialogue with demonstrators to peacefully resolve the current social crisis and prevent the escalation of violence.