Japan suspends new aid to Myanmar over coup

Japan Times -- Mar 31
The government has halted new aid to Myanmar in response to the coup there, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi has said, but is stopping short of sanctions imposed by some nations on military and police commanders.

Japan is a top aid donor to Myanmar, and Motegi said the suspension of assistance would send a “clear” message.

“For Myanmar, Japan is the largest provider of economic assistance,” he told the Diet on Tuesday.

Motegi argued that withholding official development assistance, or ODA, would do more to put pressure on the military than sanctions, saying, “If you consider which is more effective, I think it’s pretty clear.”

“What stance is Japan taking in terms of economic assistance? There is no new aid. We are taking this clear position.”

The United States, U.K. and the European Union have announced a range of sanctions targeting top police and military commanders linked to the coup, as well as military-owned companies.

But Japan, which has strong economic ties with Myanmar and long-standing relations with its military, has opted not to take more directly punitive measures.

“It’s not that sanctions are courageous and non-sanctions are not,” he told a legislative committee.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Japan’s aid to Myanmar totaled nearly 190 billion in fiscal 2019, by far the biggest contributor other than regional rival China, which does not disclose corresponding data.

The suspension reportedly affects only new aid, and not existing projects, according to media reports.

More than 500 civilians have been killed in the Myanmar military’s crackdown on protesters, and world powers have ramped up their condemnation of the campaign against the anti-coup movement.

- Japan Times