• Kyodo

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The National Unity Government of Myanmar, a group formed in the wake of last February’s coup to represent the pro-democracy movement in its fight against the junta, sent a letter last month to Japan asking to be recognized as a legitimate governing body, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.

In the letter addressed to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, the shadow government also said it plans to establish a representative office in Japan to counter the Myanmar Embassy in Tokyo, which is under the influence of the military government.

The NUG has opened representative offices in several other locations including the United States, Britain and South Korea.

While Japan does not recognize the military, known as the Tatmadaw, as the legitimate governing body of Myanmar, it has also distanced itself from sanctions imposed by Western countries while stressing the importance of its “independent pipeline” between the military and Japan’s ambassador to Myanmar, Ichiro Maruyama, among others.

A senior official of the Japanese Foreign Ministry said the NUG is also not expected to be recognized as the legitimate government. The ministry declined to comment on whether it had received the letter.

According to the sources, the letter congratulated Kishida and Hayashi on assuming their posts, requested the establishment of diplomatic relations with the NUG, and called for a meeting between Hayashi and his NUG-appointed counterpart Zin Mar Aung.

A minister of the group said that the people of Myanmar including those living in Japan expect the NUG to be recognized as a legitimate government.

Acting President Duwa Lashi La and others are scheduled to hold a virtual meeting on Thursday with a cross-party group of Japanese lawmakers supporting Myanmar’s democratization to seek support for the requests made in the letter.

On Monday, a military-controlled court in Myanmar sentenced ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who served as the civilian government’s state counselor, to two years in prison for incitement and violating coronavirus regulations.

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