WASHINGTON, KYODO – Japan hopes that Myanmar will move toward democracy and national reconciliation, Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba said Tuesday, adding that progress in these areas is the fastest way to help the people of the Southeast Asian country become economically affluent.
“What is important from now on is that . . . people in Myanmar realize that their country will become rich if the democratic process and national reconciliation advance,” Genba told reporters when asked about the victory by democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party in weekend by-elections in the long-isolated country.
Genba, who visited Myanmar in late December, said Japan is committed to backing the ongoing political and economic reforms, pointing out that Tokyo is reviewing its aid policy as the country rapidly opens up to the rest of the world after years of repression by a military junta.
Japan is planning to announce the restart of yen loans to Myanmar when President Thein Sein visits Tokyo later this month.
United front on rocket
Senior Japanese and U.S. officials agreed Monday to work closely to prevent North Korea from going ahead with its rocket launch planned for later this month, a Japanese official said.
After meeting with senior U.S. officials, including Glyn Davies, special representative for North Korean policy, Shinsuke Sugiyama, Japan’s top nuclear envoy, told reporters that the two sides agreed that a launch would violate both a U.N. Security Council resolution banning the country from launching ballistic missiles and a U.S.-North Korean food aid deal reached in February.
The U.S. officials in the talks included Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.
Sugiyama, director general of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau at the Foreign Ministry, said the two countries agreed that diplomatic efforts should be made until the very last minute to seek self-restraint by the North over the planned launch.
They agreed it is important for Japan, South Korea and the United States as well as China and Russia to closely communicate on the issue, he said.
Sugiyama indicated that U.S. officials discussed with the Japanese side what actions the two countries might take in the event the launch goes ahead, but he declined to elaborate.
North Korea announced in March that it would launch an “Earth observation satellite” using a rocket to mark the April 15 centennial of the birth of the Stalinist state’s founder, Kim Il Sung. Other countries suspect the launch to be a disguised long-range ballistic missile test.
Sudan, Lebanon envoys
The government on Tuesday appointed Ryoichi Horie, 56, a former deputy chief of mission in India, as the new ambassador to Sudan.
Horie will also be in charge of overseeing Japan’s operations in South Sudan, a Foreign Ministry official said.
Seiichi Otsuka, 58, who has worked in South Africa and Saudi Arabia, was appointed as the new envoy to Lebanon.