TOKYO -- Students learning Burmese at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies have handed a petition signed by some 38,000 people to Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, demanding that the Japanese government help protect people in Myanmar who are protesting against the coup staged by the military.
Six students visited the foreign ministry in Tokyo on March 4 and handed the petition to Yoshiyuki Yamada, director of the ministry's First Southeast Asia Division. The 20-year-old representative of the group urged the Japanese government to proactively approach the issue through diplomatic channels, pointing out that Japan is believed to have connections with both Myanmar's National League for Democracy, which held power in parliament before the coup, and the country's military.
"We feel that at the moment Japan is not clearly showing its stance on the (Myanmar) military," the group's representative said.
The online petition was launched on Feb. 21, and the students called for people to sign it with cooperation from Japanese scholars specializing in Myanmar and business-related parties, among others. "We took action, thinking we wanted to do something for our beloved Myanmar," one of the students commented.
Yamada told the group, "We're saddened by the events that have led to many lives being lost. We want to make efforts to turn the situation around for the better at an early stage."
According to the group's representative, people left supportive comments with their signatures, such as, "Violent suppression cannot be tolerated" and "The Japanese government should act to protect Myanmar's democracy."
Some people from Myanmar living in Japan have joined efforts to collect signatures in various parts of Japan condemning the military-led coup and calling for the military to release detained figures including State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi.
(Japanese original by Jun Aoki, Political News Department)