By Yuji Miyamoto
I believe that Myanmar’s military knows that they cannot nullify the country’s democratization and re-establish military rule through the coup. For the past ten years, the people of Myanmar have enjoyed freedom and economic development. They will never accept the military government.
Japan has well-established communication channels with Myanmar, both with its military and the ruling party, the National League for Democracy. There are Japanese diplomats who have been in touch with Myanmar’s senior military officials for years.
Myanmar’s military chief has said that they will redo the election. It will not be easy, but I think Japan can try to mediate between the military and the NLD, while saving both sides from disgrace.
It would be of the utmost importance that the Japanese government thoroughly discuss any mediation effort with the U.S. The U.S. government has to take a hardline stance for the U.S. domestic audience. Japan and the U.S. should divide roles when urging Myanmar to resume moves toward democracy, because Japan and the U.S. share a common goal, the democratization of Myanmar.
The Japanese government is very careful not to directly criticize the coup so as to avoid cornering the military. Although Myanmar has been historically wary of China, Beijing is increasing is influence there through infrastructure projects. It is crucial that we facilitate the creation of an environment that prevents Myanmar from turning to China.
Yuji Miyamoto, chairman of the Miyamoto Institute of Asian Research, served as the Japanese Ambassador to China from 2006 to 2010 and the Japanese Ambassador to Myanmar from 2002 to 2004.