(Yomiuri: November 14, 2015 – p. 6)
By Taro Nishijima, chief of General Bureau for Asia
Yomiuri Shimbun interviewed Ambassador to Myanmar Tateshi Higuchi on Nov. 13 in the aftermath of the general election in Myanmar. Following is the gist:
It is highly commendable that this election was held freely and peacefully under the leadership of President Thein Sein. This is proof that Myanmar is moving forward in democratization.
I would also like to pay respect to the National League for Democracy (NLD) under the leadership of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, which has persisted in their campaign for democracy over the years despite great difficulties, and congratulate them on their victory in this election.
Myanmar is a very important country for Japan and the international community. It is rich in natural resources and has a quality labor force. It has such major countries as China and India as neighbors and is increasing its presence in ASEAN. It plays a very important role in a strategic location in this region. Japan intends to offer all necessary support for a stable national administration.
I think the key issues for the new administration will include: (1) smooth transition of power; (2) responding to the great expectations of the people; and (3) building good relations with the armed forces. Japan can do much to help.
First, with regard to transition of power, Ms. Suu Kyi made her move soon after the election. She requested meetings with Mr. Thein Sein and Commander Min Aung Hlaing of the Armed Forces. Japan is ready to help in all possible ways.
Second, Japan is the only country that can provide maximum aid to help the new administration meet the people’s demand to improve their standard of living.
Japan has provided wide-ranging assistance to Myanmar from humanitarian aid to infrastructure building — such as setting up regional clinics — particularly since the transition to parliamentary government. At present, 50 officials of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are assigned to the Myanmar government, undertaking aid projects based on the local communities’ needs.
While there are concerns about the NLD’s administrative ability and its relations with the military, the NLD was quite sensible in its decision not to implement any drastic changes to the personnel of government offices and to economic and foreign policies. I hope the new government will continue to build a relationship of trust with the armed forces for the sake of a stable national administration.