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Myanmar group in Japan calls on gov't to clearly state coup opposition

Members of the Union of Myanmar Citizens' Association and Human Rights Now are seen holding a press conference after they submitted an open letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the National Diet in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on March 26, 2021. (Mainichi/Jun Aoki)

TOKYO -- A group of people from Myanmar living in Japan issued an open letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on March 26, asking why the Japanese government has not imposed economic sanctions on businesses and individuals connected to the Myanmar military.

    In a news conference at the National Diet following the presentation of the open letter, Than Swe, representative for the Union of Myanmar Citizens' Association, called on the Japanese government to apply more pressure on the military.

    "It's been 54 days since the coup d'etat but the Japanese government has yet to take meaningful action. It's the same as doing nothing," said Than Swe.

    The open letter was issued in cooperation with nongovernmental organization Human Rights Now. Among the positions it seeks to clarify from the Japanese government are: whether it acknowledges that the military has used its power to kill and wound demonstrators in Myanmar, whether it recognizes the democratic Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw opposing the military as the rightful national authority and whether it recognizes Kyaw Moe Tun -- Myanmar's ambassador to the United Nations who openly criticized the military coup at the U.N. General Assembly -- as the official ambassador.

    Additionally, it makes requests to the Japanese government, asking, "Shouldn't it issue a strong statement correcting the errors of the military?"

    According to the groups, an official at the foreign ministry promised to respond soon. The Japanese government has said it "strongly criticizes" the detention of figures including Aung San Suu Kyi and the suppression of civilians following the military-led coup. But, regarding economic sanctions and other tangible measures, it has maintained a cautious approach. Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato has previously stated, "We wish to review the situation based on how circumstances progress, and the response of other related countries."

    (Japanese original by Jun Aoki, Political News Department)

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