Ending problematic military and businesses ties . . .
Yesterday, Human Rights Watch called on the Japanese government to suspend its co-operation with Myanmar’s military, which continues to perpetuate violence and abuse against its own population. Since 2015, Japan’s Defense Ministry has been hosting cadets from Myanmar under a military training program to cultivate bilateral ties. In April, a Japanese ministry official said the government would consider concerns raised about the program during a Foreign Affairs Committee session. However, Japan was still hosting eight trainees from Myanmar at a Defense Ministry Facility as of December 10. Meanwhile, Japanese beverage company Kirin is in the spotlight after announcing earlier this month that it would seek international arbitration to end its partnership with a Myanmar military-owned company, but continuing its operations in the country, albeit under a new joint venture.
Japan’s engagement dilemma . . .
Hideo Watanabe, a former politician turned lobbyist who paved the way for Japanese investment in Myanmar, recently urged Japan to endorse the military regime and praised coup leader General Min Aung Hlaing for his “democratization efforts.” Watanabe’s stance and other Japanese engagementsin Myanmar seem at odds with the government’s official position. Since the February 1st coup, Tokyo has called for the end of violence and the release of detained government officials and halted new non-humanitarian development projects in the country. Unlike Western countries, however, Japan has historically taken a more favourable stance towards Myanmar, which was under military rule from 1962 to 2011. Some analysts see Japan’s approach as an attempt to counter growing Chinese influence in the country. But as the situation in Myanmar continues to worsen, Japan may be pressured to take a more decisive stance against the ruling junta.
No end in sight for ongoing crisis . . .
In Myanmar, anti-coup fighters continue to put up resistance against the military while junta troops intensify their attacks in villages across the country. On Monday, the United Nation’s refugee agency requested urgent access to more than 3,000 people who fled from Karen State to neighbouring Thailand after fighting broke out between the military and local armed groups last week. Meanwhile, after receiving her first sentence earlier this month, deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s next verdict has been postponed. As the one-year anniversary of the devastating coup approaches, the situation in Myanmar appears to be heading toward greater conflict and violence.
- Human Rights Watch: Japan: Cut defense ties with Myanmar military
- Nikkei Asia: Kirin CEO: top priority is to continue brewing in Myanmar
- Reuters: Japan business lobbyist backs Myanmar coup, urges investment