Message from Japan Myanmar Association
General Incorporated Association Japan Myanmar Association Chairman,
Hideo Watanabe

It has been a close relationship between Japan and Myanmar throughout the period before, during and after the World War II. The main reason, I believe, was that there was a background of Myanmar nations’ personality, gentleness and both countries mental similarity as Buddhism country, those of which had been understood, built a credibility and raised an attractive relationship by many Japanese people related to Myanmar and such phenomena had also been established a nation mind of pro-Burmese as well as pro-Japanese in a spontaneous manner.

In 1948, Myanmar became independent from the UK, they promptly and ahead of any other Southeast Asian countries renounced the right to claim for reparations, supported the food supply towards Japan when Japan nation was suffering the food shortage after defeated and strived for Japan’s postwar rehabilitation by concluding Peace Treaty and Agreement on Reparations and Economic Cooperation between the two countries. Since then, Japan continued supporting Myanmar as much as possible, however in 1988, a large-scale demonstration caused a civil war, which made Myanmar a military regime with no alternatives to keep/control the state peace and stability. As the result, by implementation of sanction against Myanmar, Japan had practically become a situation to suspend the support and cooperation, in spite of being continued such activities as a leading county in Asian countries. After that, we maintain amicable relationship with Myanmar somehow by contribution of the grass-roots supporting activities limited to the areas of humanitarian assistance.

In those days, I was the one, as Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary of Nakasone cabinet, who invited Myanmar then-Prime Minster Maung Maung Ka to Japan and was engaged in development of the support policy in Myanmar.
Since then, I attached importance to the relations for both countries under the words, instructions and encouragement of former Prime Minster Nakasone that to build a cordial relationship with Myanmar is “your duty as young generation”, for which I made an effort in good faith.
However, since the normal diplomatic relations had not been existed between the two countries, it was my regret that I could not have done sufficiently and the time had passed until today.

Nevertheless, I had tried the efforts under any circumstances, such as the riparian works of Yangon Airport, the riparian works of power-transmission line facilities of Balu Chaung Hydroelectric Power Plant, the restoration works of the medical equipment at JICA hospital and the supply vehicles for blood donation against hepatitis B. During such period, a person who welcomed me at the airport, when I visited Kyaingtong to provide the medical equipment for construction of nurse hospital in the east of Shan, was Lieutenant General Thein Sein, Shan Military Region State Commander at that time. It was our friendship and trustworthiness to start with.

After that, In 2008, I paid a visit for Myanmar to express my deepest sympathy for their historic disasters caused by cyclone Nargis in April that year, while I showed my great respect again to Mr. Thein Sein, who had become a Prime Minister in Myanmar, carried out a referendum to call his conduct in question for implementation of the new constitution in May. At that moment, I was convinced that the movement for democratization is no doubt in process in Myanmar.
Since this year, I frequently paid a visit for Myanmar to talk with then-Prime Minster Thein Sein and many other Myanmar high officials regarding Japan’s support and cooperation in order to fulfill the past 20 years of blank period.

Through such exchanges, I tried to build a mutual trust relationship with Myanmar. Now I feel all the more keenly the importance for Japan’s future to have relationship with Myanmar by way of building a reliance towards Japan by Myanmar nation as well as Myanmar government related people and vice versa. .

And in 2011, Myanmar formed a new administrative power by democratic election, the domestic regime of which has made a first step as the civilian government’ political party. The political offenders releasing and the national reconciliation is heading for realistic, shown by the talks with then-President Thein Sein and Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, and also amicable settlement with the minority race are to be in process of the new policy achievement. Furthermore, Myanmar Thein Sein new government opened the doors to overseas, the top leaders conferences between former Prime Minister Noda of Japan and then- President Thein Sein of Myanmar has been held in Jakarta in November 2011, visiting then-President Thein Sein to Japan has been realized in April 2012, visiting Japan Deputy Prime Minister Aso to Myanmar in January 2013, visiting Japan Prime Minister Abe to Myanmar in May 2013 and the second time of visiting then-President Thein Sein to Japan in December 2013, thus Myanmar as reborn country is steadily started to move forward, proved to be the cordial relationship with Japan practically. Due to this movement, both countries exchanges on extensive sectors are getting more active and deeper by continuing efforts of having government-level negotiations and of visiting many Japanese private–sector companies to Myanmar.

Recently, government of Japan executed the ODA resumption and the cooperation for development of Thilawa Special Economic Zone, located suburbs of Yangon, as to be the center of the Myanmar economy and express the policy to cope with positively the economic development of Myanmar, the realization for which Japanese government has carried out the tangible promises variously.

. Under these circumstances, I have established “Japan Myanmar Association”, a general incorporated association in March 2012 to be able to act as a position of private institution, to which I shall express my sincere appreciation for everyone who shared the values.
For further development and economic growth brought by exchanges on wide-ranging sectors between the two countries, especially for private sector’s investment promotion, trade expansion and technology support/cooperation, “Japan Myanmar Association”, as one of the organizations in private sector, should play substantially important role to be realized the Win-Win strategic relationship.

As being started National League for Democratic (NLD) new government in March 2016 in Myanmar, to develop the close relationship between the two countries focusing on the future is the duty for us and “Japan Myanmar Association” who exists the 21st century.
All my activities are not coming from self-interest and greed for power but it is genuinely foreseeing the great plan for next 100 years and nations future for both countries and at the same time, I am convinced that Japan-Myanmar alliance is to be the inevitable for Asian peace and prosperity.

I again express my determination to devote myself into extensive activities necessary for Japan and Myanmar, and to make utmost efforts for JMA members participation in these activities under your sympathy with our philosophy , for which I would kindly ask all of your guidance, encouragement and support in the future.