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PFB: Japan must halt assistance to Burma’s junta

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On 19 October members of the People’s Forum on Burma visited Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss development assistance to Burma. Although the government halted a portion of assistance, Japan is still financially supporting the junta.

(Bangkok, 24 October 2007) On 19 October 2007, members of the People’s Forum on Burma (PFB) met with representatives of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to discuss policy changes on future Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Burma. The PFB released a statement on 3 October urging MOFA to stop ODA to Burma until the State Peace and Development Council of Burma releases Aung San Suu Kyi along with all political prisoners.

OFA representatives explained their decision to stop assistance to the “Myanmar-Japan Center for Human Resources Development,” which holds lectures of economy, business, Japanese language and intercultural programmes, while maintaining support to Burma in three ways: 1) urgent and strictly humanitarian support; 2) human resources development for democracy and economy restructuring; and 3) support to the issues that cover all the ASEAN countries.

apan is currently reviewing its ODA policy to Burma following the junta’s crackdown on the uprising in September, where a Japanese journalist was killed. As one of the biggest ODA providers to Burma, Japan is under criticism for its role in helping prop up the military junta.

In 2006, Japan provided about 26 million yen (=about 226 US dollars) to Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) in Burma to build three elementary schools that will be inaugurated in December. Journalists and Burmese refugees in Japan claim that USDA blocks the movement for democracy in Burma and was involved in violently attacking demonstrators last month in Rangoon.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan said they have not found USDA to be involved, while non-governmental organisations will continue to lobby.

The People’s Forum on Burma is a non-governmental organisation based in Tokyo. It was established in 1996 to work for Burma’s democratisation and support the Burmese living in Japan.