Tokyo should immediately suspend all non-humanitarian aid to Myanmar: HRW

Tokyo, Apr 27 (EFE).- The government of Japan should immediately halt all aid projects for non-humanitarian purposes “that benefit the junta or military” of Myanmar, the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday.

“Japan should immediately suspend Official Development Aid (ODA) infrastructure projects carried out by Myanmar government ministries and other assistance involving military-controlled entities,” HRW added in a statement.

Tokyo in March said it had halted all new development aid to Myanmar in the wake of the Feb. 1 coup, however HRW said Tuesday that it believes that Japan “has yet to adopt a clear, public position regarding ongoing projects” of this type.

“As Myanmar’s security forces gun down protesters on the streets, Japan should not take a ‘wait and see’ approach but should promptly and responsibly review its aid portfolio to Myanmar,” said Teppei Kasai, HRW’s Asia program officer.

Kasai urged Japan to “suspend all non-humanitarian aid projects that benefit the junta or military as part of global efforts to pressure Myanmar’s generals to cease their violent crackdown, release all political prisoners, and restore the democratically elected government.”

More than 750 people have been killed and more than 4,484 politicians, officials, activists and journalists have been arrested since the coup, according to the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners in Myanmar.

Tokyo, one of the largest international donors of development aid to the country, has granted funding for two such projects since February, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Japan gave Myanmar about 190 billion yen ($1.7 billion) in development aid in 2019, making it the largest donor to the country alongside China, according to data from the Foreign Ministry.

Unlike its main ally, the United States, and the European Union and other Western countries, Japan has so far not opted to impose sanctions on the Myanmar military.

Tokyo maintains close commercial ties with Myanmar, where nearly 500 Japanese companies operate, mainly in the manufacturing sector, and it is the fifth largest foreign investor in the country. EFE


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