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 attracting many Japanese people related to Myanmar.

In 1948, Myanmar became independent from the UK and strived for Japan’s postwar restorations by concluding Peace Treaty and Compensation Economic Cooperation Agreement between the two countries quicker than any other Southeastern Asian countries. For appreciation of such action, Japan continued supporting Myanmar as much as possible, however in 1988, a large-scale demonstration caused a civil war, which made Myanmar become a military regime with no alternatives to keep/control the state peace and stability. Accordingly, the economic measures against Myanmar had been taken and it caused Japan to stop the support and cooperation practically, notwithstanding that Japan had been keeping outstanding relationship with Myanmar amongst the Asian countries.
From that day, Japan tried to maintain amicable relationship with Myanmar somehow by contribution of the grass-roots activities.

In those days, I was the one, as Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary of Nakasone cabinet, who invited Myanmar then-Prime Minster Maun 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”, for which I made a great efforts 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 for 20 years had passed until today.

Nevertheless, under any circumstances, I had tried utmost efforts, such as the riparian works at Yangon Airport, as well as the riparian works for the power- transmission line facilities of Balu Chaung Hydroelectric Power Plant, the restoration works of the medical equipment at JICA hospital, and the supply of the vehicle for blood donation against hepatitis B.

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 became 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 unfortunate period.

Today, I reconfirm the strong enthusiasm and enormous expectations to Japan from the Myanmar people and from the Myanmar government concerned people, which makes me realize anew that the assigned role is of the great importance.
In 2011, Myanmar formed a new administration by democratic election, the domestic regime of which has made a first step as the civilian government’ political party, the political offenders releasing is one of the good examples. The national reconciliation shown by the talks with President Thein Sein and Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, and amicable settlement with the minority race are to be in process of the new policy achievement. Furthermore, Myanmar new government opened the doors to overseas, the top leaders conference between former Prime Minister Noda of Japan and President Thein Sein of Myanmar has been held in Jakarta in November 2011, visiting President Thein Sein to Japan has been realized in April 2012 and visiting Deputy Prime Minister Aso as the cabinet minister of Abe cabinet for the first time to Myanmar has been executed in January 2013, thus Myanmar as reborn country started to move. I am happy to announce that both countries exchanges on extensive sectors are getting more active and deeper by continuous efforts of having government-level negotiations and of visiting many Japanese private–sector companies to Myanmar.

Recently, government of Japan expressed the policy regarding ODA resumption and development of Thilawa Special Economic Zone, located suburbs of Yangon, as to be the center of the Myanmar economy as well as to be the symbol of Japan’s support and cooperation.

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 many people’s comprehension and assistance.
For further development and economic growth brought by exchanges on wide-range sectors between the two countries, especially for private sector’ s investment promotion, trade expansion and technology support/cooperation, “Japan Myanmar Association” should play substantially important role to be realized the Win-Win statistical relationship. I am convinced that it is the duty for us and “Japan Myanmar Association” that exists 21st century to create a reliable relationship between Japan and Myanmar.

I again express my determination to devote myself into extensive activities necessary for Japan and Myanmar and to make my utmost effort for JMA member benefit, for which I would kindly ask all of your support and encouragement continuously in the future.