Japan calls for engagement with ‘pro-democracy groups’ in Myanmar

Japan vows full support for ASEAN special envoy, says necessary for him to visit Myanmar without delay

ANKARA (AA) – Japan on Thursday urged the new special envoy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to hold deliberations with “pro-democracy groups” in Myanmar.

The regional bloc appointed senior Brunei diplomat Erywan Yusof as its special envoy on Myanmar earlier this month, tasking him with overseeing humanitarian assistance and fostering dialogue between the military junta that grabbed power this February and its opponents.

In a phone call with Erywan, Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi underlined the “necessity for the special envoy to visit Myanmar without delay and speak not only with the Myanmar military but also with pro-democracy groups.”

He also stressed “the importance of communication with the international community,” read a Foreign Ministry statement.

He assured Erywan that Japan will “fully support” the ASEAN special envoy’s activities on the Myanmar issue.

On the importance of humanitarian aid, Motegi said Japan has “taken the initiative ahead of other countries and provided over $20 million of humanitarian assistance.”

Erywan expressed appreciation for Japan’s actions and said he will “keep in mind Japan’s advice in carrying out his mission as the special envoy.”

The Myanmar military seized power on Feb. 1 by ousting the government of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy.

Top political leaders, including Suu Kyi, are among thousands of people detained and hundreds more have been killed as the junta has violently cracked down on anti-coup protests.

According to the latest update by Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a rights group monitoring political violence in Southeast Asia, junta forces have killed at least 965 people since Feb. 1.

“A total of 5,550 persons are currently under detention. A total of 255 people have been sentenced in person, of them 26 have been sentenced to death, including two children,” read the report.


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