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Journalist Yuki Kitazumi, who spent nearly four weeks in a Myanmar prison before returning to Japan on Friday, said inmates at the facility pleaded with him to report on what is going on in the embattled country.

Political prisoners recounted being punched and kicked while blindfolded, being tortured nearly fatally and being denied food for days, he told Kyodo.

On Thursday, state-run TV in Myanmar reported that the junta decided to release Kitazumi “in consideration of cordial relations between Myanmar and Japan.”

[In Japanese] Japanese journalist detained in Myanmar sent a message to the people in Myanmar [English message from 3‘42'] | NI TERE NEWS
[In Japanese] Japanese journalist detained in Myanmar sent a message to the people in Myanmar [English message from 3’42”] | NI TERE NEWS

The following day, Japan’s Foreign Ministry announced it will extend $4 million in emergency food aid to Myanmar in response to the humanitarian crisis triggered by the Feb. 1 coup.

Japan remains heavily invested in Myanmar. Earlier this month, Kyodo reported that its investigative team had found that at least 10 Japanese companies have had direct business ties with firms affiliated with Myanmar’s military or have taken part in projects that could be sources of income for the junta.

As Philip Brasor notes in Media Mix, Japan’s press largely echoes the government line that such investments can be used to force the junta to negotiate with the deposed civilian government — though so far, there’s little sign of that happening.

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