Japan Criticized for Training Myanmar Junta Officers

Members of the international organization Human Rights Watch, have criticized Japan’s Defense Ministry for allowing Myanmar military personnel to join the Japanese education and training program after its coup in February last year.

Human Rights Watch official Teppei Kasai said the ministry’s program “leads to bolstering the military’s violence” and “tramples on the sentiments of people in Myanmar.”

Earlier, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said that the ministry has yet to decide if it will accept personnel from Myanmar in the new fiscal year.

“We will respond properly,” Kishi said.

The ministry said the program was designed for foreign personnel “to understand the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) under civilian control and utilize that understanding in their own countries.”

In December, a defense ministry official told Human Rights Watch that eight cadets from Myanmar were attending the academy, and at least two of them joined after the coup. 

Human Rights Watch released a statement in the same month, urging the Japanese government to break ties with the Myanmar military and to immediately suspend the study abroad program.

If the ministry continues to accept Myanmar personnel, it would effectively “support a military that has killed many citizens,” the statement said.

The statement also noted that Australia suspended cooperation with the Myanmar military in March 2021.

The Japanese Human Resources Development Division said the program assumes senior officials and others from Myanmar will build personal relationships and change the military from within after they return home from Japan.

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