Japan's stance soft on Myanmar: Investment and China's concern over principles?


Japan has not behaved in line with the US policy of taking a tough stance against Myanmar's military rule and imposing sanctions. Experts say that Japan has adopted an independent policy in this matter. This has dealt a blow to the US intention to take a common stance with allies on developments in Southeast Asia. In the case of Myanmar, immediately after the military coup, it became clear that Japan did not agree to take a tough stand against military rule. Since then a large section in Japan has been in favor of maintaining contact with the rulers of Myanmar. The Japan-Myanmar Association is an organization whose members include top Japanese politicians and big businessmen. Its Secretary-General Susuke Watanabe suggested in an article last month that Japan should act as a bridge between military rule and the West in Myanmar, rather than blindly following the US approach to change power.

Watanabe is the son of a former cabinet minister. He claimed in his article that he is one of the few foreigners who have had contact with the military ruler of Myanmar, Min Aung Hlayang. Significantly, Japan has not imposed any economic sanctions against Myanmar. While he is involved in the US-led quadruple (quad) along with India and Australia.

Professor Nobuhiro Aizawa at Kyushu University of Japan told Tokyo newspaper Japan Times – 'Japan does not believe in imposing sanctions. Japan's view is that if a government does not adhere to democratic principles, it will not be financially successful. And if you are not financially successful, you will not be able to remain in power.

Japan has appealed to Myanmar's military rulers to stop the violence. Along with this, there has also been a demand for the release of those arrested and restoration of democracy. On June 8, the lower house of parliament passed a resolution condemning the military coup. But an official of Japan's Foreign Ministry told the Japan Times - 'Many avenues of communication exist among the international community with Myanmar, including its military rulers. We know that not only Japan, but many other countries believe what is the best way to deal with this situation.

Experts say that Japan's record of defending Myanmar's army is old. In 2019, Japan said that there was no genocide in Myanmar. Whereas then the case of the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine province was well-known worldwide. Then the Japanese government pointed out that Myanmar's military has spoken of action against people who violate human rights and Japan trusts it.

According to analysts, Japan's fear behind not taking a tough stand on Myanmar is that it will reduce its influence there, which will benefit China. Significantly, China did not allow the UN Security Council to pass a resolution imposing sanctions on Myanmar. Simon Tye, president of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, told the Japan Times about this- 'Japan has invested heavily in Myanmar. At the same time, it is engaged in economic competition with China there. In view of this, Japan has been reluctant to take a tough stand on Myanmar's issue.