Japan to provide $3.5 million in emergency aid for Rohingya migrants


Japan announced Saturday it will provide $3.5 million (¥432 million) in emergency grant aid to support mainly Rohingya migrants from Myanmar left adrift at sea, as the plight of the thousands of boat people draws international attention.

“With regard to nonregular immigrants, including women and children trying to cross the Indian Ocean, Japan has decided to extend 3.5 million U.S. dollars through the IOM and UNHCR,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in a keynote speech during a one-day seminar at the United Nations University in Tokyo. IOM is the acronym for the International Organization for Migration and UNHCR refers to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

It is Japan’s first financial assistance in connection with the humanitarian crisis involving Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, who have been fleeing discrimination and persecution at home.

The Foreign Ministry said the aid will be used partly to address the shelter and health needs of people stranded in the Indian Ocean or waters off several Southeast Asian nations.

Japan has been actively engaged in providing humanitarian assistance to Southeast Asian countries when needed and helping promote peace in the region, Japanese officials said.

Speaking in front of government officials and academics at the ministry-sponsored High-Level Seminar on Peacebuilding, National Reconciliation and Democratization in Asia, Kishida said Japan would continue to play a role in peace-building efforts in conflict areas in other parts of Asia.

“Japan should not be the only nation accustomed to peace. Only after the benefits of peaceful and friendly relations accrue to the region and the entire world can we establish a true and long-lasting peace,” he said.

Noting the importance of upholding democracy, freedom, human rights and diversity, Kishida said, “We must prevent the spread of extremist views in Asia that groups like ISIL seek to promulgate,” referring to the Islamic State militants in Syria and northern Iraq.

Attendees at the conference discussed efforts made so far as well as future challenges in Asia in terms of peace-building and national reconciliation processes, such as in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, as well as Myanmar and Cambodia.