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Japan may stop assistance projects to Myanmar in response to coup



Japan may stop assistance projects to Myanmar in response to the military coup, which has received major international backlash. As a major donor to Myanmar, Japan joins other advanced nations in condemning the coup which has seen security forces using violence against peaceful protesters.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi was quoted as saying in a phone call that “Japan will strongly urge the Myanmar military to release Suu Kyi and other detained individuals, and to swiftly restore democratic government.”

But it may not impose sanctions like the rest of the other developed countries as its longtime ties with the armed forces, ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy and investment promoting policy in the country may serve as a barrier in doing so. Britan and the United States have imposed sanctions in recent days which include the US freezing military funds.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry official says stopping its support of building projects would give China a chance to move in, increasing its clout in Myanmar. Around 450 Japanese companies operate in Myanmar with Japan being the 5th largest investor in the Southeast nation. Singapore has the most companies, followed by China, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

The Foreign Ministry says Japan spent about US $1.8 billion in official development assistance in the fiscal year of 2019, making it the largest among the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But it is unknown what China has poured into it as it has refused to disclose its expenditures.

The Japanese government plans to continue coronavirus emergency assistance to Myanmar through international organisations and non-governmental organisations. The World Bank, however, has stopped payments to projects in the nation indefinitely, after the coup on February 1, which disrupted the democratic elections last November and saw the arrest of top leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party, the National League for Democracy, won the elections in a landslide victory.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. EdwardV

    Friday, February 26, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    Understandable Japan would take a much more measured approach. While countries like the UK, US and other democracies can afford to take a hard stance because they have little to no skin in the game. Others like Japan, need to still work with Myanmar both now and in the future. People assume the power struggle going on in Asia is between China and the US, it’s not. The real protagonists are China and Japan. There are real life geopolitical reasons Japanese can’t afford to burn their bridges with Myanmar.

  2. Supachai

    Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 3:14 pm

    Well said, EdwardV.
    Myanmar has a complicated history including a colonial past, ravages of WWII and the rise of the military. Its population is multi-ethnic and inter-woven, with several rebel groups locked in turf wars in frontier states. It is also rich in natural resources so coveted by China. All these factors make it a delicate balancing act when interacting with Myanmar. Japan has long supported the country and its people even in tough times and has a lot at stake.

  3. Morty14

    Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    A bit hypocritical for Japan since the last major coup in a southeast Asian country next to Mymamar, it was business as usual for the Japanese

  4. EdwardV

    Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at 4:06 am

    Morty, not sure Japan is really doing anything different. Outside of condemning the coup in Myanmar, Japan isn’t in fact doing anything else. Pretty much the same thing they did with Thailand. A few economic development deals might be postponed or even canceled, but that’s small potatoes. Many of the western democracies did much more including economic sanctions, suspension of military cooperation, and lots of cancelled business deals. That said, while the two countries are next to each other, they are worlds apart in geopolitical capital. Thailand is a linchpin of the area, Myanmar not so much. It only makes sense to treat them differently even if at a moralistic level you wouldn’t think so.

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Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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