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Japan cuts grants to Burma

October 16, 2007

While China still stands by her brother in arms, Burma, Japan is putting some economic pressure on the junta.

According to Guardian Unlimited, Japan’s foreign minister said Japan was cancelling a £2.3m grant for a business education center at Rangoon’s university. Japan has been considering its course of action towards Burma since the killing of Japanese video journalist, Kenji Nagai, at the height of the Burmese protests. The decision to cut funding came in response to international outrage over the crackdown, and according to Guardian Ulimited, Japan hoped the move would encourage the regime to move towards democracy.

While economic sanctions from USA and the EU have had little effect on the Burmese junta, Japanese sanctions may have a considerable impact. While the announced funding cut only represents a small proportion of the £13m the Japanese government gave to the Burmese regime last year, the Japanese foreign minister said further grants would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis in future.

By cutting financial support and threatening to withdraw even more in the future, Japan, once Burma’s largest aid donor, has sent a clear message to the junta.

– We cannot take action that would effectively support the military regime at this moment, the foreign minister said.

This is an important move forward by the Japanese government, and should be a clear warning sign to China and India: No-one can support the Burmese junta these days without getting blood on their hands. There are only two ethically and politically sound ways to deal with the Burmese regime:

1. Impose military and economic sanctions on Burma now, and demand real political change and the release of all prisoners before lifting them.

2. Make clear demands to the Burmese regime now, with a clear – and preferably rather short – deadline,and follow through with sanctions if these demands are not met.

China and India: pick a choice! Until you do,the world will hold you responsible for what happens in Burma.

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