Countries & Regions
Visit to Myanmar by Prime Minister Abe
May 27, 2013
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid an official visit to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar between May 24 (Friday) and May 26 (Sunday), which was the first visit by a Japanese Prime Minister in 36 years. An outline of the visit is as follows:
(1) May 25 (Saturday)
Visit to the Martyrs' Mausoleum and the Yeway Japanese Cemetery
Visit to the Let Yet San Friends Elementary School
Visit to the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ)
Luncheon hosted by U Myint Swe, Chief Minister of Yangon Region
Participation in the Myanmar-Japan Business Seminar Courtesy call by U Myint Wai, President of the Myanmar Association of Japan Alumni (MAJA)
Courtesy call by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD)
(2) May 26 (Sunday)
Japan-Myanmar summit meeting followed by a joint meeting with private-sector representatives
Signing ceremony for exchanges of notes concerning Japanese grant aid and yen loans to Myanmar
Joint press remarks by Prime Minister Abe and President U Thein Sein
Luncheon hosted by President U Thein Sein
2. Overall Evaluation
It was significant that the visit to Myanmar by Japanese Prime Minister for the first time in 36 years laid the foundation for further strengthening bilateral relations between Japan and Myanmar and laid the foundations for taking the relationship to a higher level, by building on the relationship of trust that the two countries have nurtured to date.
Prime Minister Abe delivered the message that both public and private sectors of Japan will provide full-fledged support to the efforts of the Government of Myanmar towards democratization, enhancement of the rule of law, economic reforms and national reconciliation, which Myanmar is currently tackling with all its strength.
Prime Minister Abe was accompanied by a business mission during his visit, in what was his second such top-level involvement in boosting business activity following his tour to Russia and the Middle East. Bearing in mind Myanmar’s potential as a promising production base and market, it was reaffirmed that both sides will work together to promote cooperation in a wide array of areas covering both "hard" to "soft" aspects and to pursue a mutually beneficial economic relationship that will contribute to the growth of the Japanese economy as well.
Japan and Myanmar decided to strengthen dialogue on regional issues and security as well as to promote defense exchanges, with Myanmar’s presidency of ASEAN in 2014 in mind.
3. Outline of Main Events
(1) Japan-Myanmar Summit Meeting
The Japan-Myanmar summit meeting was held in Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar, for approximately 90 minutes from around 10 a.m. on May 26, and a joint statement was issued. In the two leaders' presence, Japan and Myanmar signed and exchanged notes regarding Japanese grant aid and new yen loans to Myanmar.
Prime Minister Abe explained that the public and private sectors of Japan will together extend full support for the efforts being made by the Government of Myanmar towards democratization, the enhancement of the rule of law, economic reforms and national reconciliation. President Thein Sein expressed the intention of Myanmar to press ahead with reforms with the support from Japan.
Prime Minister Abe said that Japan will provide a wide range of assistance with particular emphasis on (1) the improvement of people's livelihoods and poverty reduction, including assistance to ethnic minorities; (2) capacity building and institutional development (3) infrastructure development for sustainable development. To that end, Prime Minister Abe expressed Japan’s intention to implement assistance totaling 91 billion yen (51 billion as yen loans and 40 billion as grant aid and technical assistance) to Myanmar by the end of the current fiscal year. With regard to assistance to ethnic minorities in Myanmar, he explained the efforts of Mr. Yohei Sasakawa as Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar. President Thein Sein expressed gratitude for Japanese cooperation for the development of Myanmar including its contribution to the arrears clearance operations.
The two leaders welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of a consortium for the Thilawa SEZ. They decided to accelerate negotiations on a bilateral investment agreement, acknowledging that they are getting closer to reaching an agreement in principle. They also decided to use a public-private joint initiative in order to expand bilateral trade and investment.
The two leaders agreed to further promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges between Japan and Myanmar, towards the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2014. Prime Minister Abe explained Japan's commitment to inviting 1,000 young people from Myanmar under the "JENESYS 2.0" youth exchange program and supporting the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) to be held in Myanmar later this year. Following the summit meeting, Prime Minister Abe also unveiled the uniform for the national team of Myanmar designed by Japanese designer Junko Koshino at a luncheon.
They also exchanged views on regional issues. On North Korea, Prime Minister Abe underscored the importance of comprehensively resolving the issues of abduction as well as nuclear and missile development. The two leaders agreed to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries in the political and security fields.
(2) Courtesy Call by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, Chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD)
The courtesy call lasted approximately 30 minutes from 4:30 p.m. on May 25. Prime Minister Abe stated that through his visit he hoped to lay the foundation for a new bilateral friendship with Myanmar and take the bilateral cooperative relationship to a higher level, and that he hoped to provide assistance to Myanmar in a way that would meet its needs. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi expressed her appreciation for the Japanese stance and stated that she would like to have the Union Parliament discuss Japan’s assistance so that the request to be made from the Myanmar side will reflect a national consensus.
(3) Business Mission from Japan
Representatives of some 40 Japanese companies and organizations visited Myanmar concurrently with Prime Minister Abe.
The Myanmar-Japan Business Seminar was held on May 25, bringing together about 540 people from business sectors of both countries. Prime Minister Abe also attended this seminar and expressed his hope that Japanese companies would contribute to the development of Myanmar, stressing the critical importance of cooperation from Japanese companies which have an established reputation for technology transfers, harmonization with the local community and a high level of awareness of environmental protection.
On May 26, immediately following the Japan-Myanmar summit meeting, a joint meeting with private-sector representatives was held for approximately one hour. Several private-sector representatives from Japan briefed President Thein Sein about their initiatives in Myanmar in areas such as education, finance, transportation and vehicles.