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October 16, 2007
Japan Witholds Aid to Burma after Crackdown
Japan has cancelled a multi-million dollar grant to Burma to protest the crackdown on demonstrators as well as the death of journalist Kenji Nagai who was shot execution style by a Burmese soldier during the protests:
Japan had earlier said it would suspend some assistance in response to the death of Kenji Nagai, a Japanese journalist among at least 10 people killed when troops fired into crowds of peaceful protesters during the Sept. 26-27 crackdown. Blaming the victim is par for the course with this crew.
Diplomats and dissidents say that the death toll is much higher. In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said the government was canceling a grant worth $4.7 million for a business education center slated for the Yangon University campus. Machimura said the decision was made in response to the crackdown and followed a U.N. statement condemning the violence.
In 2005, Japan provided grants totaling $11.2 million and $14.7 million in technology assistance to Myanmar, according to the latest Foreign Ministry figures. Video footage of Nagai's death appeared to show a soldier shooting the journalist at close range on the streets of Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city.
A commentary in the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper Sunday blamed Nagai for having "invited danger" by attending the protests.
The United Nations, meanwhile, continued their glacial progress toward achieving some kind of consensus on how to deal with the brutes who govern Burma. UN special envoy Gambari showed up in Malaysia as part of a 6 nation regional tour to try and convince Burma's neighbors to stand behind the democracy activists and punish the regime for their savagery.
Not surprisingly, this is the response they got:
Gambari met with Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, who said the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations wants to "see the success" of his negotiating work. I'm sure the Junta is quaking in its jack boots.
But the minister also said that ASEAN will not consider suspending Myanmar as a member and rejected any proposal for economic sanctions. "Dialogue and negotiations are still the best process," Syed Hamid said. "Nobody can talk when you are threatening all sorts of things."
It appears that China is the only player in this game who can alter the Junta's thinking about negotiating with the dissidents. This is not very likely as China itself just closed the door to reform at the latest party Congres.