Fukuda wants U.N. in Myanmar

Providing cyclone relief must be conducted without 'alarming' the military junta, he says

Kyodo News

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has told a U.S. newspaper that he expects the United Nations to “more actively intervene” to help cyclone-hit Myanmar at a time when the military government is reluctant to accept troops from other countries, according to a government official.

While noting that the United States is showing “great consideration” by preparing to deploy troops to help Myanmar, Fukuda was quoted as telling the Washington Post on Saturday, “But is it OK to forcibly go there when the (Myanmar) government doesn’t want it and what if some conflict occurs?

“We must think well about whether it is appropriate to (help Myanmar) by way of sending military troops from one country or whether it would be better to send the troops as part of a U.N. organization,” Fukuda said.

He also stressed the need “not to alarm the Myanmar government” and to have a U.N. organization take the initiative.

“We would like to call on the United Nations to make more active intervention,” Fukuda said. “If a powerful country like the United States makes such a request to the United Nations, maybe it will be easier for the United Nations to take action.”

Myanmar has been reluctant to open its borders to personnel from relief agencies and countries offering help, including the United States, despite predictions that the number of fatalities from the cyclone could reach as high as 100,000.

The junta has been increasingly at odds with the United States, which has supported prodemocracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

On climate change issues, Fukuda expressed his willingness to seek support from India, a major greenhouse gas emitter, for Japan’s proposal of a “sectoral approach” to setting targets for greenhouse gas emissions cuts, after recently gaining appreciation from China.

China agreed that the sectoral approach provides “an important method” for the reduction of emissions in a bilateral joint statement on climate change issued Wednesday when Chinese President Hu Jintao was in Tokyo for a state visit.

Japan, which will host the Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido in July, has proposed calculating potential carbon dioxide reductions on a sector-by-sector basis.

Fukuda said the sectoral approach is “an easily comprehensible and scientific method” but added that Japan will deal “flexibly” if there are better proposals from other countries, according to the official.