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Japan to suspend infrastructure support to Myanmar
Apr 01. 2021(The Yomiuri Shimbun)
By The Japan News/ANN
Japan intends to suspend its infrastructure support to Myanmar, in response to the many deaths and injuries caused by security authorities’ crackdown on demonstrations there, according to government sources.
The Japanese government plans to reject new requests from the military for aid in developing infrastructure, and is considering suspending some ongoing projects as well. Through these measures, Tokyo aims to pressure Myanmar authorities to improve the situation, the sources said.
Japan is one of the world’s top supporters of Myanmar, with official development assistance totaling ¥189.3 billion in fiscal 2019. It has helped with the construction of large-scale infrastructure in Myanmar — including a railroad linking its largest city, Yangon, with the second-largest city, Mandalay — with yen loans of ¥142.2 billion.
Construction of a sewage system in Yangon is also underway, with a loan of ¥45.9 billion.
Japan plans to decide how to deal with each ongoing project, taking into account the impact on the people of Myanmar if support is suspended. It will also consider using the situation as a bargaining chip, for example, by continuing the assistance if Myanmar’s military makes efforts to improve the situation.
The Japanese government has been calling on the military through dialogue to stop the violence, but there has been no improvement.
“There is no doubt that the situation in Myanmar is worsening. We strongly call on Myanmar’s military to immediately stop the violence, release the detainees and restore the democratic system as soon as possible,” Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at a meeting of the House of Councillors Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
The government plans to continue humanitarian assistance via international organizations, including the provision of medical equipment and food aid, as the need for assistance for refugees and evacuees is increasing due to the chaos caused by the military coup.
“We will take a comprehensive approach to future economic cooperation, judging what kind of response will be effective in calming the situation and restoring the democratic system in Myanmar,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a press conference on Tuesday.
The government, however, is cautious about imposing sanctions on Myanmar’s military personnel, as has been done by the United States, Europe and other countries. Japan is the only country in the Group of Seven major nations that maintains a pipeline to the military, and intends to continue its efforts to reach out to the military.