• Kyodo

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Japan will contribute $19 million (around ¥2 billion) in emergency grant aid via international organizations to support Myanmar’s Rohingya people, who have fled homes in the country’s Rakhine State to escape persecution and violence by the military, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Japanese officials said Tokyo will maintain humanitarian assistance to Myanmar even as it condemns the military coup on Feb. 1 that ousted a democratically elected government and saw State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders detained.

The grant aid will be used to supply medical and sanitary goods to a total of 58 hospitals and health care facilities in Myanmar and neighboring Bangladesh, where many of the Rohingya have taken refuge, and to provide food to a total of 600,000 people in both countries, the ministry said.

The assistance will be delivered via the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Food Program and the International Organization for Migration, the ministry said.

Since August 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, an ethnic minority group mostly living in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, have fled their homes to escape a military crackdown.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as an ethnic group with rights as citizens. Instead, they are branded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Japan has been looking to play a “unique role” in efforts to reinstate the democratically elected government in Myanmar, including through the application of pressure on the Myanmar military — with which Tokyo maintains connections.

In talks with Myanmar’s military-appointed Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin on Monday in Naypyitaw, Japanese Ambassador to Myanmar Ichiro Maruyama called for a halt to all violence by the security forces against protesters, the release of Suu Kyi and others detained and the early restoration of a democratic government, according to Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.

“We’re exploring various ways to see what will be most effective in preventing an escalation of violence in Myanmar, which is of the utmost priority as we are ultimately seeking to reinstate a democratic government,” Motegi said at a news conference on Tuesday.

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