Japan has objected to Myanmar junta’s use of Japanese-donated ships in Rakhine State after investigating Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims.
Japan’s foreign ministry demanded that the junta prevents the use of the passenger ships for military purposes, according to the state-owned NHK media organization.
Ministerial spokesman Ono Hikariko said Japan will work to prevent further incidents, study the ships’ usage and promote the proper application of Japanese aid.
Japan said two out of three donated ships in Rakhine were used for military purposes last year.
HRW reported last year that at least 100 junta troops with military supplies were transported by the donated ships from the state capital Sittwe to Buthidaung in northern Rakhine, where the regime is fighting the Arakan Army.
Japan delivered the three ships between 2017 and 2019 as part of the 500-million-yen (US$3.5 million) Economic and Social Development Program signed in September 2016 with the National League for Democracy government.
The Japanese Embassy in Myanmar said the program aimed “to improve water transport in Myanmar and contribute to the economic and social development of Myanmar by donating passenger ships for coastal transport in Rakhine State”.
Japan halted new non-humanitarian programs in Myanmar after the 2021 coup, although it did not suspend ongoing projects. By November 2021, Japan had given Myanmar about $9.6 billion in loan assistance, $2.5 billion in aid and $690 million in technical assistance.