Japan Weighs Halting New Assistance Projects to Myanmar After Coup

By Kyodo News 25 February 2021

TOKYO—Japan is considering halting new assistance projects in Myanmar for the time being in response to the military coup earlier this month, government sources said Thursday, as international criticism of the takeover mounts.

Japan, a major donor to Myanmar, has joined other Group of Seven advanced economies in condemning the coup and the Myanmar security forces’ use of violence against peaceful protests.

From a humanitarian perspective, meanwhile, Japan plans to continue emergency assistance offered through international organizations and nongovernmental organizations such as for combating the coronavirus pandemic, the sources said.

Japan, in light of its longtime ties with Myanmar’s military, has distanced itself from imposing sanctions on the country’s military officials as the US administration of President Joe Biden has done.

Unlike its G-7 partners, Japan has maintained connections with both the military, known as the Tatmadaw, and ousted civilian leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, according to Japanese Foreign Ministry officials.

Japan intends to continue efforts to convince the Myanmar military to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and others detained and swiftly restore democratic government in Myanmar, the officials said.

Japan extended massive official development assistance totaling nearly 190 billion yen (US$1.8 billion, 2.52 trillion kyats) in fiscal 2019, by far the largest among the 30-member Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry. China has not disclosed its assistance figures for the country.

In 2016, then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Daw Aung San Suu Kyi that Japan’s public and private sectors would contribute about 800 billion yen over five years to agriculture, human resources, manufacturing, energy, urban development and financial services essential to nation-building in Myanmar.

This story was first published by Kyodo.

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