Economy and Rohingya, Aung San Suu Kyi gets Tokyo’s support

Prime Minister Abe promises aid for the repatriation and relocation of Myanmar refugees. During her official visit, the Myanmar leader held bilateral talks to encourage investment and trade between Japan and Myanmar. The Rohingya crisis has had a negative impact on Myanmar’s economy.


Tokyo (AsiaNews) – The Japanese government "will give its maximum assistance to help Myanmar build up a democratic country”. Tokyo highly values Suu Kyi’s efforts “to cope with a difficult agenda,” including economic reforms and “issues related to Rakhine state,” said Japanese Prime Minister Shinto Abe at a joint press conference yesterday that wrapped a state visit to Japan by Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Without directly citing the crisis affecting the Rohingya Islamic minority, Abe said that the refugee issue poses a "very complex and grave" problem. He promised aid for the repatriation and the relocation of refugees in Myanmar.

For her part, Suu Kyi said, “I appreciate the stance of Japan and also welcome it”, noting that an independent commission, launched in July, has been given “extensive and powerful authority” to “conduct an effective probe” into human rights abuse allegations in Rakhine.

Over the previous six days, Suu Kyi took part in the 10th Mekong-Japan Summit where she held talks to encourage investment and trade between Japan and Myanmar.

Her visit to Japan began on 5 October. Two days later, she visited an agricultural plant in the village of Izumizaki (Fukushima Prefecture) to see how Tokyo deals with rural depopulation. Back in the capital, the next day she took part in the Myanmar Silk Promotion Event, organised by the ASEAN-Japan Center.

In Tokyo, Suu Kyi spoke at the Myanmar Investment Conference "Strengthening the Bond Between Myanmar and Japan" organised by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).

In her speech, she told representatives of 400 Japanese companies that they can invest in her country with confidence, despite the ongoing challenges such as the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State. She stressed the positive changes by her government in favour foreign investments and provide a better legal framework.

For Myanmar’s civilian government, economic reforms are a key to complete the country’s democratic transition after sixty years of isolation under the military dictatorship.

However, Myanmar's economic growth has slowed down due to a sharp drop in foreign investment (nearly US$ 900 million less over the past year), as the country's image suffered as a result of the violence against Muslim Rohingya.

In order to revitalise the tourist sector, the authorities have launched a programme that allows citizens of Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macao to enter the country without a visa.

Yesterday morning, Aung San Suu Kyi led the Myanmar delegation to the international summit chaired by the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, in the presence of the leaders of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The subject of the discussion was Japan’s "Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy", which aims to offset China’s growing influence in the region through the latter’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

According to Tokyo, this plan will promote the development of quality infrastructure in the countries crossed by the Mekong River.

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