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Interview: Ex-U.S. envoy to Myanmar seeks Japan’s strong message on coup

  • February 12, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 5:50 p.m.
  • English Press

Washington, Feb. 12 (Jiji Press)–Japan should deliver a strong message on the military coup that happened in Myanmar earlier this month, a former U.S. ambassador to the Southeast Asian nation has said.

Speaking in an interview with Jiji Press on Thursday, Derek Mitchell, who was appointed the first U.S. ambassador to Myanmar in 22 years in 2012 under the administration of then U.S. President Barack Obama, also pointed to the need for Japan and other allies to walk in step with the United States, which has shown a stern attitude against the coup.

“Japan doesn’t have to immediately do exactly the same as the United States, but there should be the prospect of a strong, punishing response” to the coup, he said.

With Japan having maintained a good relationship with Myanmar’s military, Mitchell said Japan should have “hard conversations that are very sincere and honest about the cost that will have to be endured by the military” if the current situation continues.

“I think there’s nobody better than Japan” for such a task, he added.

The U.S. response to the coup, including sanctions against top military officials, signaled “to our allies and partners, including Japan, that we (the United States) are willing to take decisive steps to help restore democracy and to show support for the people of Myanmar,” Mitchell said.

He said that it is “a critical moment” for the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden.

Noting that one of the pillars of Biden’s foreign policy is competition between values, Mitchell said that what is happening in Myanmar “is the first kind of test of what we want to do when those values are under stress.”

On another pillar of Biden’s doctrine that the United States must work with its allies, Mitchell said, “The question, then, is will our allies and partners step up?”

“Ultimately, we have to show sincerity and seriousness in supporting these values in this twilight competition between autocracy and democracy,” he continued.

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