• Kyodo

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The Myanmar community in Japan and people who have ties with the Southeast Asian country’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday expressed their surprise and worry over her detention by the military.

“I felt she was having a hard time but I had not realized that it was this bad,” said Yoshihiro Tsubouchi, an honorary professor at Kyoto University who knew Suu Kyi from her days as a researcher at the university’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies in the 1980s.

Tsubouchi, 83, said he hoped she “is not in danger.”

Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s state counselor and foreign minister, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university in 2016.

Concerns are growing after the military staged a coup, following a landslide victory by her ruling National League for Democracy in the November general election. The military had disputed the outcome.

A group of Myanmar activists protest outside the United Nations University building in Tokyo on Monday following a military coup in the country. | REUTERS
A group of Myanmar activists protest outside the United Nations University building in Tokyo on Monday following a military coup in the country. | REUTERS

The manager of a restaurant in the Takadanobaba district of Tokyo, dubbed “Little Yangon” for its thriving Myanmar community, was stunned at the development.

“Ms. Suu Kyi made great efforts to prevent such situations. It is something that should not happen, and I am shocked,” Yu Yu Wai, 58, said about the democracy activist who spent decades under house arrest in the past.

“I am surprised. We can only watch the situation,” said Katsuhiko Nishina, chairman of the Japan Myanmar Friendship Association, which promotes bilateral cultural and business exchanges.

Nishina, 54, said that “investment and trade would be affected even more” if the current situation makes travel to and from Myanmar even harder, given that the border traffic has already been restricted due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

A group of Myanmar activists protest outside the United Nations University building in Tokyo on Monday following a military coup in the country. | AFP-JIJI
A group of Myanmar activists protest outside the United Nations University building in Tokyo on Monday following a military coup in the country. | AFP-JIJI
A group of Myanmar activists hold portraits of Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest outside the United Nations University building in Tokyo on Monday following a military coup in the country. | AFP-JIJI
A group of Myanmar activists hold portraits of Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest outside the United Nations University building in Tokyo on Monday following a military coup in the country. | AFP-JIJI

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