Japan Announces $96 Million in Aid for Ethnic Areas

Japanese Ambassador Mikio Numata (L) and Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa during a press conference in Rangoon on Monday. (Photo: Sai Zaw / The Irrawaddy)

Japanese Ambassador Mikio Numata (L) and Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa during a press conference in Rangoon on Monday. (Photo: Sai Zaw / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — The Japanese Ambassador to Burma, together with influential Japanese charity the Nippon Foundation, announced on Monday that Tokyo plans to spend US $96 million in the next five years in order to improve living standards and promote peace in Burma’s war-torn ethnic areas.

Ambassador Mikio Numata told a press conference in Rangoon that Japanese aid organizations would disburse the funds after discussing their planned aid operations with the government and ethnic armed groups.

The ambassador and Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, who co-hosted the press conference, offered few details of how and where the huge sum of aid money would be spent, other than to state that it would be used to support village livelihoods, boost job skills and to provide food aid and medicine.

“The aid is for ordinary ethnics who have suffered war and conflict. Housing will be required in the long and short terms for villagers who have left their homes due to the conflict … They will also need to learn skills for professions in order to gain incomes,” Sasakawa said through a translator.

The Nippon Foundation has long taken an interest in Burma, and following the reforms introduced by President Thein Sein in the last two years, the foundation has become increasingly active in the country.

It has sought to play a leading role in Burma’s complex ethnic conflict and the foundation organized aid deliveries into three ethnic areas last year, bringing along reporters to cover its rice donations to villagers.

“We have found out from our trips to ethnic areas that people have to leave their homes, lack enough food and medicine, and children go without enough food to eat,” said Sasakawa, who Tokyo has appointed as Special Envoy for National Reconciliation in Myanmar.

“We believe that both sides [the government and ethnic groups] will be satisfied with the amount of aid that we will provide,” he added.

The Nippon Foundation told The Irrawaddy in an email later that it is considering applying for a share of the $96 million in Japanese funds in order to run aid operations in ethnic areas.

Japan has been quick to reestablish economic ties with Burma after international sanctions were cancelled, in order to build up Japanese economic interests in the country and support Thein Sein’s nominally-civilian government.

In 2013, Tokyo cancelled more than US $3 billion in foreign debt owed by Burma and provided a $500 million loan to clear Naypyidaw’s arrears with international financial institutions. Japanese firms are also helping to develop the Thilawa Special Economic Zone near Rangoon, while Tokyo has promised to support a range of infrastructural upgrade projects.

The Nippon Foundation has played a supporting role in these efforts. Its chairman Sasakawa is very well-connected in Japan, where he is known to be close to the current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. His nationalist government is keen to build up relations with East and Southeast Asian nations, in part to offset the growing economic and military power of China.

5 Responses to Japan Announces $96 Million in Aid for Ethnic Areas

  1. Cheer Japan for impressive contribution to the war-torn all ethnics’ regions.

  2. Elementary points:

    With showing of greed (Lawba) and vicious killing and torturing of the defenseless people in day-light right on the street with not a murmur of objection from any quarter- (Daw Tha) and wrongful pride of being “Burmese” (Maw Ha) where the only requirement is simply to be born with no effort required by the subject, citizens of Burma are so hopelessly degraded and decadent that getting money from the world’s first class fascists seems like a lottery win. Indeed Burmese of today are more abut easy money (like lottery, Hna-Lone-Htee, etc) than any hard work. Nga-Bar Thi- la is gone way back. Only showy “Donations” to fancy monks and “causes” substitute for good morality.

    Japan being American errant boy under most right-wing leadership is trying to get Burma and indeed India to circle China. Sasakawa, a Mussolini worshiper (http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=6Kln-SUqKW0C&pg=PA64&lpg=PA64&dq=mussolini+sasakawa&source=bl&ots=LKpIchOdvT&sig=sIhWRG1QBNV9zwKeUEC-MewQTaY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=WufKUtaeOsiulQXrwoGQBw&ved=0CFoQ6AEwCg#v=onepage&q=mussolini%20sasakawa&f=false) and close friend of Yakuza head Yoshio Kodoma (Japan Kempetine operator) made their money by looting Munchuria (See Sterling Seagrave’s books, ex-husband of Wendy Law-yone) in the old days and now from gambling with unique Japanese Boat Racing. Shinzo Abe government is the most Fascist government of post-war period.

    Appears Burmese have delightedly sold their souls to the devil and cannot still have enough of it. Hell will be smiling!

    Meanwhile Burmese are falling for the East Asia Co-Prosperity all over again. Well like Aung San!

  3. Many thanks,Japan !..for such aid packages that are very useful for us.One day our old grandmas…. Obachan will have a chance to take hot bath..ofudo in ethnics area.Domo Arigato Gozaimasu.

  4. Dear Sir

    According to recent report from local media, there are over 800 local Mon language teachers whom are not fully awarded by standard equal to local primary teachers in government school in Mon State. Therefore, local Mon Buddhist monks have been organising fund raising event through lecturing Buddha’s teaching in local Mon State.

    A recent reports from Mon education committee also has indicated that over 300 Mon local schools have been running under resources, especially basic paper and pencil.

    The Government of Union of Myanmar has not yet committed either to fund or allow formal teaching of non-Burmese ethnic native language in local public school. Public school are fully funded by local people, the citizen of the country. It is not the desire of a child that he or she could not learn first language in the public school.

    Funding for public school shall be equally available to all Primary school in all over Burma and therefore, each bi-lingual teacher shall be fully awarded salary as staff of public services.

    Nippon Foundation could inject such funding to Ethnic area’s schooling but it the the interest of the Government of Myanmar, (especially), the interest of non-Burmese people to secure funding to each child in each school.

    Each child from all over Burma, regardless of place and area of birth shall be provided schooling in their first language from early year until year 6 or year 10.

    It is a tragedy that funding is targeted to temporary road and other construction but lack on long term social and education investment in the country.

    Nippon Foundation and the official of ethnic organizations as well as the government’s officials shall be set aside at least 30% of this funding toward education sector, especially in rural area.

    If 40% of rural children again missed opportunity to reach High School or college in post year 10, we would face social and unemployment issues in 2030 and beyond.

    The funding for rural school shall be equally injected by 30% from donors, 30% from the government and 30% from ethnic organizations and 10% from community by 2015.

    If over 5 millions children of Burma’s rural people missed vocational education by 2020, we just waste our own time and money to the wrong hands.

    It is time that Nippon Foundation and other donors emphasis on education investment than other road construction but balance act is the key.

    Thank to Japanese and donors to this project.

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