Japan suspends new aid to Burma

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Tokyo | Japan has suspended all further aid to Burma in response to the February 1 military coup in an attempt to promote a return to the democratic process, the Japanese foreign minister confirmed on Wednesday.

The United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union have announced sanctions targeting police and military officials involved in the deadly crackdown since the coup, as well as companies owned by the military.

But Japan, which maintains close economic cooperation ties with Burma and is one of its largest aid providers, has only called on the country to restore democracy, without adopting direct sanctions measures.

Japanese foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi said he believed the suspension of aid and strong messages were more effective in convincing Burmese generals.

“For Burma, Japan is the most important provider of economic aid. What position does Japan take regarding this aid? There is no new aid. We are taking this clear position, ”Motegi said Tuesday during a parliamentary session.

“What policy is really effective regarding Burma?” I think the answer is clear, ”he added, rejecting the thesis that“ to impose sanctions is courageous and not to impose it is not ”.

The decision was only to apply to new aid and not to already existing projects, local media reported.

The Burmese generals continue a relentless crackdown to try to end the pro-democracy protests and strikes that have rocked Burma since they toppled the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi.

In the past two months, 521 people, many of them students and teenagers, have been killed by security forces, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners (AAPP), which estimates that the figure could be well. higher, hundreds of arrested Burmese reported missing.

Japan has long enjoyed cordial relations with Burma, including when it was ruled by a military junta, while supporting the cause of Aung San Suu Kyi, who stayed in the archipelago in the 1980s as a as visiting researcher at Kyoto University.

Several Japanese nationals are said to reside in Burma, where several hundred Japanese companies are present. Japan is said to be the fifth largest foreign investor in the country.