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Ceasefire Agreement Signed with Ethnic Armed Groups in Myanmar Statement by Mr. Yohei Sasagawa, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar

February 13, 2018

1. I would like to offer my most heartfelt congratulations to the Government of Myanmar and two of the country’s ethnic armed groups, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Lahu Democratic Union (LDU), for signing the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

2. The Government of Myanmar and the ethnic armed groups have, since 2011, been taking part in ceasefire negotiations, and on October 15, 2015, 8 such groups, including the Karen National Union (KNU) reached a ceasefire agreement. In the more than two years since then, the government has continued to talk with these groups that did not sign the agreement, engendering a deeper trust, and I would like to show my respect for the fact that an agreement has now been reached with two more ethnic armed groups.

3. As with the previous agreement, as Japan’s special envoy, this time also I served as witness for the international community, adding my signature as a cosigner for this historic ceasefire agreement.

4. At the time of the first ceasefire agreement, as witness for the international community and as Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar, in order to build the trust of both the government of Myanmar and the ethnic armed groups, I put forth all of my effort, working hand in hand with both sides in driving forward this process. Further, through discussion with not only the participants themselves, but all people who aim for peace in Myanmar—politicians, academics, religious leaders, civic groups, diplomats and the leaders of the ethnic armed groups that had already signed the agreement, with cooperation and support from the persons concerned, we have made a great effort to build environment conducive to reaching this ceasefire agreement.

5. Even further, the Japanese government is providing support for the rebuilding of communities of people who live in or have returned to the areas controlled by those ethnic armed groups that have signed the ceasefire agreement. Focusing in particular on Karen State, the Japanese Government has cooperated with Japanese and international NGOs in more than 20 locations in and around Karen State to build more than 1,000 residences, install solar panels, dig wells, and build such facilities as schools, hospitals and bridges so that people in these regions can enjoy the benefits of the ceasefire.

6. This agreement will of course contribute to the peace, stability and progress of all of Myanmar, including its ethnic minorities, and I have the deepest faith that it will help those who have had to endure hardship to lead a more safe and secure life.

7. As witness for the international community to Myanmar’s historic peace process, I have been made newly aware of the grave responsibility of my position. On the basis of the proactive pacifism promoted by the Japanese government, working in cooperation with international society, I will continue to do my utmost in driving forward the Myanmar peace process.

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