All national papers reported that during a press conference on Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato said the Myanmar (Burma) military’s control of the country was “equivalent to a military coup.” The government spokesman, however, stopped short of specifying what Japan will do in terms of economic and other support for the nation. In response to a media query about the Biden administration’s intention to consider reinstating sanctions on the military regime, Kato merely said Tokyo will look into how to respond while taking a closer look at the situation.
Mainichi noted that Tokyo appears hesitant to take a hard line toward the junta in coordination with Washington out of fear that overreacting would push the country in the direction of China. The daily said the GOJ has maintained connections with the Myanmar military for decades, with Foreign Minister Motegi having held a meeting with Army Commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing in addition to Aung San Suu Kyi when the cabinet minister visited there last August. “Japan is the only country in the Western camp that is still able to conduct communications with the military,” a MOFA source was quoted as saying: “Japan takes a unique approach toward Myanmar.”
In a related story, Sankei and Nikkei said the ruling LDP launched a taskforce on human rights diplomacy with the goal of putting together recommendations on how the GOJ should respond to military rule in Myanmar and China’s oppression of Uyghurs. Taskforce chair Suzuki said the party will study how Japan should deal with issues connected to human rights violations abroad as the Biden administration is set to take a tough position on the subject. The panel is reportedly aiming to submit its advice to the GOJ in preparation for Prime Minister Suga’s attendance at the G7 summit in the UK in June.