When hundreds of protesters gathered outside Japan’s embassy in Yangon during the height of nationwide anti-coup protests in February, Ambassador Ichiro Maruyama emerged from the gates with a firm warning for the junta: Release the detained civilian leadership "immediately.”

The remarks, delivered in Burmese, drew applause from pro-democracy demonstrators hoping Japan would take concrete action to pressure Myanmar’s military, also known as the Tatmadaw. But since then, Japan has resisted calls to impose sanctions or suspend ongoing infrastructure projects, saying only it would avoid carrying out any new nonhumanitarian deals with the junta.

What’s more, some influential Japanese voices want to embrace the junta.