Conflicts & War

Brewer Kirin to cut ties with Myanmar military in wake of coup

Tokyo, Feb 5 (efe-epa).- Japanese brewer Kirin Holdings announced Friday that it will end its two operations in Myanmar as a result of this week’s military coup in the Southeast Asian country.

Kirin said the military’s actions were “against our standards and Human Rights Policy.”

The Japanese multinational owns 51 percent of two Myanmar operations, Myanmar Brewery and Mandalay Brewery, along with Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHL), run by active and retired military personnel.

“We decided to invest in Myanmar in 2015, believing that, through our business, we could contribute positively to the people and the economy of the country as it entered an important period of democratization,” the company headquartered in Tokyo said.

Given the “current circumstances,” Kirin has decided to terminate its “current joint-venture partnership” with MEHL, “which provides the service of welfare fund management for the military,” the global beverage producer said.

Kirin added that it will “be taking steps as a matter of urgency to put this termination into effect,” although it did not specify when the process will be completed.

It is the first Japanese company to announce such a measure since Monday’s coup, which has also affected the operations of other Japanese companies such as automakers Suzuki and Toyota and airline All Nippon Airways.

Kirin’s investments in collaboration with the military-related entity had been the subject of complaints from NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW), who believed that the company was effectively putting money into the hands of the military, which has been accused of genocide and other war crimes against the Rohingya ethnic minority and others.

A United Nations fact-finding mission investigating human rights abuses in Myanmar concluded in 2019 that foreign businesses doing business with the Tatmadaw (military) posed “a high risk of contributing to or being linked to, violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.”

“At a minimum, these foreign companies are contributing to supporting the Tatmadaw’s financial capacity,” The UN said.

Kirin commissioned an independent audit last year to determine who the main beneficiaries of MEHL were, the results of which were inconclusive due to insufficient information given.

HRW on Friday welcomed the “long-awaited” decision of the Japanese company to terminate its alliances in Myanmar.

“Other foreign companies with ties to the Myanmar military should follow in Kirin’s footsteps in an urgent and transparent manner,” HRW’s Asia program officer in Tokyo, Teppei Kasai, told EFE. EFE-EPA


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