Japan must stop funding the Myanmar military to stop atrocities!
Japan must stop funding the Myanmar military to stop atrocities!
Why this petition matters
Since seizing power by coup d’etat on February 1, 2021, the Myanmar military has continuously engaged in severe oppression of citizens who have been demanding democratization. As of December 8, a total of 1,318 people, including children, has been killed; arrest warrants issued against 10,793 people; and 7,860 people are still detained. Ethnic minority populations have been subject to not only attacks by the military but also fighting between the military and ethnic armed organizations, resulting in more than 230,000 people being internally displaced throughout the country. Unless the violence perpetrated by the military is stopped, the number of victims and internally displaced people will continue to rise.
For Myanmar, Japan is the greatest provider of assistance. In terms of bilateral loan aids alone, Japan has committed nearly one trillion yen for various infrastructure projects since 2012, including those related to the Thilawa Special Economic Zone. Furthermore, other public funds have been used to invest in or lend to private-sector projects, enabling the public and private-sector in Japan to also engage in various businesses in Myanmar. However, there is the possibility that some of these aid projects and businesses are benefiting the Myanmar military (see the List below). This is a serious problem, especially in light of the fact that the Japanese government has made an international commitment to ensure that its assistance would not benefit the military.
We strongly urge the Japanese government to sever its economic relationship with Myanmar’s military to prevent Japanese funds from supporting the violence committed by the military.
We ask that the Japanese government earnestly listen to the voices of the people of Myanmar, take concrete actions suggested below, and make clear to us and the people of Myanmar that it has taken such actions.
List: Projects that may be benefiting the military and actions that should be taken by the Japanese government
Bago River Bridge Construction Project: This is a construction project funded by a bilateral loan aid from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and is tied through its supply chain to the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC), an entity controlled by the military. The project should sever its relationship with the military-controlled corporation.
Thilawa Special Economic Zone: This project is funded by JICA together with the Myanmar government, and dividends will be paid if a profit is generated. As the country is effectively controlled by the military, we urge JICA to take measures to prevent the military from benefiting from continuation of the project, and publicly disclose the measures taken.
Real Estate Development Project (Y Complex): The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), which is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance, provided financing, and the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport & Urban Development (JOIN), which is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, provided funds and guarantees for this project. This facility is being constructed on a site managed by Myanmar’s Ministry of Defence and owned by the army. As rent payments for the site become revenue for the military or the Ministry of Defence which is controlled by the military, public funds from Japan should be withdrawn from the project.
Other JOIN Projects: With regard to the Thilawa Area Port Terminal Operation Project, because the Myanmar Port Authority is effectively controlled by Myanmar’s military, JOIN should withdraw from the project. Regarding the Yankin PPP Redevelopment Project which utilizes land owned by Myanmar’s Ministry of Construction, if it is not possible to prevent rent payments from being made to the military, JOIN should withdraw from the project. With regard to the Landmark Project, an investigation should be conducted into whether the project is benefiting the military in any way , including by generating revenue. JOIN should withdraw from this project if it is not possible to prevent the project from benefiting the military.
Yetagun Gas Project: Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry owns stakes in the Yetagun Gas Project. Revenues from the Yetagun field profit Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), an entity that is controlled by the military, and also provide substantial tax revenues for Myanmar which is effectively under the control of the military. All of the natural gas from Yetagun is exported and does not serve as a source of energy within Myanmar. Until democratic rule is restored in Myanmar, the Japanese government should take measures in cooperation with the international community such as holding payments for this project in a protected account outside of Myanmar, thereby preventing the military from being able to freely use revenues from natural gas production.
Sponsors of this campaign: ayus: Network of Buddhists Volunteers on International Cooperation, FoE Japan, Japan International Volunteer Center, Network Against Japan Arms Trade, Mekong Watch
Endorsing Organizations: Burmese Relief Center Japan, Japan Tropical Forest Action Network (JATAN), Fukuoka NGO Forum on the ADB (FNA), Peace Boat, WE21 Japan, Union Of Myanmar Citizen Association, Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Center
Visit the Mekong Watch website for more information:
 Daily Briefing in Relation to the Military Coup, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (December 8, 2021) https://aappb.org/?p=19143
 Myanmar–Humanitarian Snapshot, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (November 2021)
 Inflow of large amounts of development funds to Myanmar was brought about by its transition to civilian rule in 2011, Under the leadership of Japan’s Ministry of Finance, past debts to international financial institutions were temporarily assumed by Japan, and in addition, nearly 300 billion yen in debts were forgiven. Even before this, Japan had forgiven approximately 70 billion yen in debts, with the taxpayers in Japan bearing all of the burden of such relief. The Japanese government needs to be held accountable to the taxpayers of Japan and formulate measures to ensure that the current debt is not unfair to the people of Myanmar.
 The Communiqué issued in June 2021 by the participants of the G7 Summit including Japan stated “We reiterate our commitment to ensuring that neither development assistance nor the sale of arms will benefit the military, and urge businesses to exercise due diligence in their trade and investment in the same vein.” Concrete details of the “commitment” have yet to be made public. Carbis Bay G7 Summit Communique, June 11, 2021. https://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/100200009.pdf
 See, e.g., "Over 200 CSOs Call for IFI Loans to Burma to be Frozen and Reassessed," February 17, 2021. https://progressivevoicemyanmar.org/2021/02/19/for-immediate-release-over-200-csos-call-for-ifi-loans-to-burma-to-be-frozen-and-reassessed/