Q: Myanmar and Japan have enjoyed a longstanding friendship. How do you evaluate the current status of the relationship, and how do you think your visit will contribute to the further strengthening of the bilateral relationship?
A: This is my third visit to Myanmar as Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan. During each visit, I feel the very warm hearts of the people of Myanmar, towards the people of Japan as true friends. The Japanese people also feel an affinity towards the country, the people and the diverse culture of Myanmar. The historical friendship between our two countries is the foundation of such feelings of mutual intimacy.
We welcome the inauguration of the new administration in Myanmar which has garnered the support of the majority of its people. The general elections which were held last November marked a historic significance as the first step towards the true democratization of Myanmar. I heard that it became popular for Myanmar voters to upload on Facebook selfies of themselves with their fingers marked with the “indelible ink” that Japan supported together with other donors. We feel that development would not be achievable if the country does not have a safe and stable society in which the people can participate in free and fair elections.
The “Japan Myanmar Pwe Taw” was first held in 2014 to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Myanmar. We held the second of such Pwe Taw in February this year, and as many as 17,000 Myanmar people came to the venue to enjoy Japanese culture through pop music, Japanese taiko drum performances, food stalls and company exhibition booths. We feel that knowing each other’s cultures deepens our mutual understanding. I hope you will all take part in the next Pwe Taw.
On this visit, I would like to convey that Japan is supporting Myanmar both from the public sector and the private sector as a trusted development partner for Myanmar. I firmly believe that such cooperation will fortify even more our amicable bilateral relations for the further democratization and prosperity of Myanmar.
Q: Japan has provided assistance to the development of Myanmar through the implementation of many ODA projects. How do you evaluate the past and current projects through Japanese ODA and what are the Government of Japan’s plans for future ODA assistance towards Myanmar?
A: In support of Myanmar’s efforts towards reform across various fields towards democratization, national reconciliation and sustainable development, Japan reviewed the economic cooperation guideline for Myanmar in 2012. In the years following the review, Japan has provided debt relief of approximately 300 billion Japanese Yen in 2013, as well as has provided a total of 377 billion Japanese Yen worth of assistance towards livelihood improvement, human resources and institution development, and infrastructure development.
A good example of Japanese assistance is the opening of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ). This project was realized through the cooperation between the Governments and the private sectors of both Japan and Myanmar. Japan not only provided support for the development of the industrial zone, but also the development of the port and roads in the vicinity. Also, the three ferries provided to Yangon are now busily supporting daily commuters. During last year’s flood and landslide disaster, many regions in Myanmar suffered serious damage. In light of the disaster, Japan decided to provide a maximum of 5 billion Japanese yen for relief support, and the school reconstruction assistance utilizing the funding is well underway.
Japan, as a true friend of Myanmar, will continue to provide high-quality assistance conforming to international standards including environmental and social considerations. Especially, we will provide an all-out support for sectors which Myanmar’s new administration is especially emphasizing, such as creation of employment opportunities, health, education, agriculture, infrastructure, fiscal and finance sectors.—GNLM