As political turmoil engulfed Myanmar earlier this month, Japan and its Group of Seven peers rushed to condemn the coup, urging the military to restore the nation's democratically elected government and release State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi immediately.

But unlike Washington, Tokyo has been cautious about implementing sanctions on the Myanmar regime to avoid jeopardizing the relationship it has built with military leaders over decades and out of fear that excessive punishment could drive Myanmar closer to China.

To parry criticism of complacency, Japan has been touting its diplomatic channel with the military as a potential tool to turn the volatile situation around and put the country back on the road to democracy.