Japan wants India to assist Myanmar to a higher degree: Confused by Trump administration

Japan wants India to assist Myanmar to a higher degree: Confused by Trump administration

Sawako Utsumi and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Yohei Sasakawa, the Special Envoy of Japan to Myanmar, is alarmed by the increasing role of China in the internal affairs of Myanmar and the aloofness of America under President Donald Trump. Hence, Sasakawa is hinting strongly that India should utilize its leverages with Myanmar. Equally important, Sasakawa also implies that Japan and India should work closely in supporting Myanmar.

Sasakawa is also worried that the Bengali Muslim crisis in Rakhine is detrimental internally and externally for Myanmar. This notably applies to the threat of sanctions by America under Trump. Also, of great alarm, is the endless confusion of the current Trump administration because in recent times this nation is upping the ante towards Myanmar. Therefore, with the Islamic bloc being in hypocritical mode and negative statements being made by America, this could potentially benefit China to a greater extent because of detrimental international intrigues.

The Times of India reports, If the US decides to impose sanctions on Myanmar‘s military, the country would be pushed towards China, said Yohei Sasakawa, Japan’s special envoy in Myanmar.” 

Of course, for Myanmar, this nation needs favorable relations with China, India, Japan, the Russian Federation, and all regional nations that aren’t seeking to impinge on the independence of Myanmar. If America is an honest broker, then Myanmar will also look to America in important areas related to economics, the political realm, infrastructural issues, and geopolitical military concerns. After all, the highly esteemed Aung San Suu Kyi desires to modernize Myanmar and to open the nation up internationally. However, Suu Kyi also knows that the democratic transition and the stemming of internal conflicts must be resolved in order for a new Myanmar to emerge.

Sasakawa hinted that America was a problem under Trump in containing China’s opportunism in Myanmar. He said, “The Trump administration is unclear what their approach to Myanmar should be. In fact, the US ambassador has refused to see Aung San Suu Kyi yet.” 

In other words, if America and other Western nations turn against Myanmar, then China will play its powerful card to an even higher degree. Yes, relations between China and Myanmar are productive and of course, it is folly to build a wedge between these nations. Despite this, it is also folly to isolate Myanmar and to put undue pressure on this geopolitically important nation.

Japan is involved in the National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) and believes that it is imperative for Myanmar to solve internal ethnic issues. Sasakawa said, “Two more groups are ready to sign the agreement any time now.” If this happens, then ten groups will have signed up to the NCA. This can only strengthen Myanmar and if the two new groups agree to sign up to the NCA, then Japan will earmark $100 million dollars in rehabilitation assistance. Therefore, Japan, unlike America, seeks to prevent the Islamist vacuum in Rakhine from spreading on the rhetoric of outside nations, international media groups, and Gulf petrodollars.

Sasakawa hopes that India and Japan will work together in order to prevent an uneven geopolitical balance that will favor China in relation to Myanmar. Hence, while it is important for Myanmar to utilize China and the Russian Federation because both nations are Permanent Members of the United Nations – and to gain from economic agreements and buying military hardware from these two powerful nations – this shouldn’t happen at the expense of India, Japan, and other important regional nations. Therefore, it is in the interest of Myanmar to be open to all major powers that are honest brokers (China, India, Japan, and the Russian Federation). At the same time, Myanmar must forge closer economic and infrastructural ties with the above-named nations and other countries including Australia, Singapore, South Korea, and many others throughout the Asia Pacific.


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