JAPAN-The Japanese Ministry of Defense announced on September 20 that after the execution of four pro-democracy activists in July, new Myanmar military junta officers and cadets will not be allowed and accepted for military training in Japan.
“We have decided that it is not appropriate to continue military cooperation and exchanges if the Myanmar military junta continues to be like this,” Japan Ministry of Defense spokesman Takeshi Aoki said at a news conference on Tuesday.
However, nine cadets and two officers who are currently training at the Japan National Defense Academy and Japan Defense Department will be allowed to continue until the end of their programs.
The Japanese government, with the approval of the Minister of Defense, is accepting cadets and officers from Myanmar military junta and providing training in accordance with Section 100 of the Defense Forces Law on Training and Education of Foreigners.
As for Japan, it accepted two cadets and two officers from Myanmar in 2021 after the coup in Myanmar. In 2022, Japan again accepted two cadets and two officers from Myanmar military junta council to attend training.
“The suspension of training is a step forward, but Japan should do more,” said Teppei Kasai, Asia program officer at Human Rights Watch.
“Japan should first investigate the assignment of the soldiers who attended the training in Japan and release the findings for accountability purposes. At the same time, Japan should cooperate with the international community and implement targeted sanctions against Myanmar’s military junta leaders and military junta -owned companies,” he continued.
Human Rights Watch said in December 2021 that the Japanese government should immediately stop the training program because there is a risk that the Japanese government could become an accomplice in the Myanmar military junta’s atrocities.
An official from the Japanese Ministry of Defense responded that the ministry does not have any information about the activities of the cadets and officers trained in Japan after returning to Myanmar.
In May, Human Rights Watch and Justice For Myanmar conducted joint research on Myanmar Military Council Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Hlwan Moe, who attended training at the Japanese Air Force Base from August 2016 to March 2017. The air base has been implicated in serious human rights violations, including reckless airstrikes in Magway.
Also in August, according to Human Rights Watch’s additional findings, it was found that the forces of the Eastern Command, under which Major General Tin Soe, a Japanese military graduate, was involved in the killing of civilians, including the well-publicized Christmas Eve massacre in Karenni State.