See More on Facebook

Analysis, Diplomacy

Despite pressure elsewhere, Suu Kyi still has a friend in Japan

The diplomatic spaces in which Aung San Suu Kyi, the state counselor of Myanmar, can move without serious challenge are growing increasingly narrow.


Written by

Updated: October 9, 2018

In August, a report by a United Nations fact-finding mission declared that the violence committed in Rakhine State against members of the country’s Rohingya muslim minority was a genocide and recommended that top officials in the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military, be investigated for the role they played. Suu Kyi has steadfastly denied that any such ethnic cleansing has taken place.

In September, Suu Kyi greeted the jailing of two Reuters journalists, which had been met with outrage by many in the global community with a shrug.

“If anybody feels there has been a miscarriage of justice, I would like them to point it out,” she told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Hanoi where she fielded questions on both the crackdown on free press and treatment of Rohingya muslims.

Suu Kyi’s silence and indifference may be catching up with her on the world stage. Less than a week ago, Canada’s parliament voted unanimously voted to strip her of her honorary Canadian citizenship, but it’s unlikely that she will face any such diplomatic heat or pushback on her visit this week to Japan for the Mekong-Japan Summit in Tokyo.

While many western governments have taken a harshly critical tone against the handling of the crisis by Myanmar’s government—and of Suu Kyi’s leadership specifically—Japan has long avoided confrontation and condemnation when it comes to Myanmar’s domestic affairs.

Japan, for example, sat out when it came time to vote in December of last year on the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution to condemn the Rohingya situation in Rakhine State. And, more recently, while other nations have pulled back from the Tatmadaw—the United States has imposed two rounds of sanctions on the military—Japan has continued to affirm its support.

In February of this year, Myanmar Times reported that Kentaro Sonoura, special adviser to the Japanese prime minister on national security, said Japan believes the Tatmadaw  “has an important role in consolidating democracy in Myanmar.”

Japan’s reluctance to apply diplomatic pressure in Myanmar or to speak out on topics like violence in Rakhine State or freedom of the press can be understood partly in connection with Japan’s economic interests in Myanmar. As recently as May, Japanese investment in Myanmar reached an all-time high of about $1.48 billion. Japan sees Myanmar as a market for goods, a valuable labor force, and as a means to put up a fight against China for strategic dominance in the region.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Quinn Libson
About the Author: Quinn Libson is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Diplomacy

Can Pakistan play a role in Iran-US tensions

An editorial in Dawn newspaper looks at the role that Pakistan might play in the ongoing tensions. Tensions between the US and Iran, particularly in the Gulf, are rising and the situation has sent alarm bells ringing throughout the region. It is in this context that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Tuesday that Pakistan was “closely following the situation” and would take a stand “that best served the national interest”. Pakistan is, of course, in a sensitive position as it has decades-old, deep relations with the US, while it shares a long border with Iran. Moreover, this country’s ties with the Gulf Arabs — particularly the Saudis — who are firmly in the American camp, are also cordial and have a strategic and defence dimension. In case of any hostilities


By Dawn
May 17, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

China vows action as US moves to blacklist Huawei

Hopes of a trade deal recede as experts fear American companies could face a backlash. China has slammed the United States for putting technology giant Huawei on an export blacklist and said it will take “all necessary measures” to protect the legal rights of Chinese firms. The latest twist in the face-off between the US and China not only suggests that hopes of a trade deal are fast evaporating, but it could also delay the roll-out of 5G networks worldwide. US technology firms could also face a backlash, experts said. China’s Ministry of Commerce said yesterday that it resolutely opposed any coun


By The Straits Times
May 17, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Beijing stresses equality in trade talks with Washington

World market confidence dampened by escalation, Chinese state media says. Consultations between China and the United States are not a one-way street, and should be conducted amid a spirit of equality, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday in Russia. Wang said that it is pointless for one side to blame the other, or even to absolve themselves from responsibility. Wang stressed if one side is trying to place extreme pressure on the other, it will cause a legitimate counterattack. “The measures from us are not only to safeguard China’s own rights, but to protect the basic rules of the current multilateral trading mechanism,” Wang said. Wang made the remark in a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during his visit to the Black Sea coastal city of Sochi. Experts warned that the rising US tariffs on Ch


By China Daily
May 16, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Beijing vows retaliation on US trade

Ministry expresses ‘deep regrets’ in wake of added tariffs on Chinese goods. The Ministry of Commerce expressed “deep regrets” on Friday at the United States’ move to impose additional tariffs on Chinese imports and vowed to take necessary countermeasures. The comments came shortly after the US increased the rate of additional duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent, a move that economists said amounts to “typical trade bullying” that will backfire to hurt its own interests. The commerce ministry said in a statement that the 11th round of China-US high-level economic and trade consultations are underway, and China hopes the two sides can work together to resolve existing issues cooperatively. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily news briefing that a healthy and stable Sino-US relationship serves the


By China Daily
May 13, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

India’s political parties and their foreign policy platform

Where do India’s major political parties stand on foreign policy issues in Elections 2019. Foreign policy debates have historically been foreign to Indian election campaigns. But photo-ops with international leaders are always welcome because they help burnish the credentials of politicians with the domestic audience. Images of India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru rubbing shoulders with Presidents Sukarno and Nasser of Indonesia and Egypt, respectively, at the Asia-Africa Bandung Conference in 1955 certainly did his image as a world statesman no harm. The television broadcast of his daughter, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, being enveloped in a surprise bear hug by ‘elder brother’ Fidel Castro at the 1983 Non-Aligned Movement Conference in New Delhi, was widely thought to have humanised the otherwise aloof Mrs G for millions in India. In more recent times, Rajiv Gandhi’s


By Ishan Joshi
May 13, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

North Korea launches two projectiles, assumed to be short-range missiles

The tests comes amid increased tensions with the United States. North Korea fired two projectiles that appeared to be short-range missiles on Thursday, less than a week after it conducted what it claimed was a “regular military drill.” Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said launches of what appeared to be short-range missiles took place at 4:29 p.m. and 4:49 p.m. in Kusong, North Pyongan Province. It had initially said they were launched at Sino-ri, some 40 kilometers below Kusong in the same province. Both of the projectiles traveled east at the altitude of 50 kilometers and landed in the East Sea. They flew 420 kilometers and 270 kilometers re


By The Korea Herald
May 10, 2019