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HomeDiplomacyJapan to Abandon Controversial Training Program for Myanmar Cadets – The Diplomat

Japan to Abandon Controversial Training Program for Myanmar Cadets – The Diplomat

asean beat | | safety | | Southeast Asia

A defense ministry spokesperson said the decision was a response to the junta’s execution of four political prisoners in July.

Yesterday, the Japanese government announced it would suspend military training for Myanmar military officers from next year, after weathering a storm of criticism over its continued ties to the military.

Tsuyoshi Aoki, a spokesman for Japan’s defense ministry, told reporters that the ministry will stop accepting students from the 2023 school year, which starts in April. report.

According to NHK, the impetus for the decision was the military regime’s Execution of four political prisoners This was widely seen as a cruel, shocking and escalating act even by the low standards of the Myanmar military.

Following the execution, a group of Japanese parliamentarians in favor of Myanmar’s democratization urged Japan to end a program in which cadets from Myanmar would be accepted into Japan’s National Defense Academy for both academic and military training. requested to According to Aoki, the Ministry of Defense has determined that it is not appropriate to continue defense cooperation and exchanges with Myanmar.

The training program in Japan dates back to 2015. That same year, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide election victory. The NLD’s election victory marks a hopeful high point for Myanmar’s political and economic opening up, with many foreign governments beginning to engage with the military after years of sanctions and restricted contact. led me to

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But even after the military came to power in a February coup, Japan’s plans continued, plunging the country into a new phase of political turmoil that continues to this day.Human Rights Watch (HRW) According to Japan Accepted two cadets Two officers were scheduled to participate in the 2021 post-coup training program. This was followed this year by two more cadets and his two officers.

In May, HRW and Myanmar-based advocacy group Justice for Myanmar identified a Japanese-trained air force commander. they claimed Participated in bombing of civilian militia units opposing the junta. Lt. Col. Hlwan Moe was reportedly invited to attend the Air Command and Staff School in Tokyo from 2016 until he was in 2017.

The Japanese government’s decision to keep the program alive after the coup is likely rooted in a fundamentally pragmatic approach to non-democratic countries in Myanmar and Southeast Asia. For years, Japan has avoided sanctions and trade bans imposed by many Western democracies. He argued that constructive engagement is the best way to foster change within the Myanmar military, and that moral sanctions policies have achieved little except opening a vacuum of influence. simply buried in China.

The potential practical gains of maintaining a foothold of influence with the Myanmar military seem clearly outweighed by moral and reputational externalities.

Teppei Kasai from HRW said on Twitter Tokyo’s move is a “step forward” but should “investigate the whereabouts of all other Tatmadaw soldiers trained in Japan and make the results public”. He called for participation in the Western sanctions campaign against military leaders and companies associated with the armed forces.

But given the history of Japan’s relationship with Myanmar, at least in the short term, the leap from ending controversial ties with the military to aggressively punishing with sanctions and other economic measures. Not likely. Pragmatism will continue to dominate Japan’s Myanmar policy in the near future.

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