Japan is stepping up its engagement with Myanmar, with Watanabe Hideo, chairman of the Japan-Myanmar Association (JMA) and a former member of the House of Councilors of Japan being the latest visitor to arrive at Naypyidaw.
The Irrawaddy newspaper reported that Watanabe met Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Defence chief General Min Aung Hlaing and senior officials on his two-day visit earlier this week.
Discussions included Japanese investment as well as improving defence relations. Naypyidaw is keen to expand Japanese aid for socio-economic development, particularly in the education and health sectors.
Japan is increasing efforts to pull Myanmar away from Chinese clutches. It is supporting Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), in an effort to develop democracy in the country. Japan has tried to ensure that some of the warring communities in the ethnically diverse country were not disenfranchised during the recently held elections. It is also negotiating peace between the Myanmar Army, called the Tatmadaw, and the Arakan Army (AA) insurgents.
Japan is well poised to discuss Myanmar’s internal issues with its top leadership as the country enjoys trust of both the main actors in Myanmar – the still powerful army as well as the new political dispensation.