• By The Financial District


At least 10 Japanese companies have had direct business ties with firms affiliated with Myanmar's military or have taken part in projects that could be sources of income for the junta, a Kyodo News investigative team reported.

The results of the probe were released Saturday amid concerns that funding and business deals by Japanese state-run and private entities may be aiding human rights abuses by Myanmar's military government, while calls are growing in the United States and European countries, as well as from shareholders, to sever ties with the junta.

Such entities include the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, construction firm Fujita Corp. and property manager Tokyo Tatemono Co.

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About 400 Japanese companies entered Myanmar after the 2011 transition to a civilian government following decades of military rule. Since then, Japan's official development assistance resumed but companies are still required to partner with local firms due to restrictions on foreign investment, and several of them partnered with those related with the military.

One instance involves Kirin Holdings Co., which has two joint ventures -- Myanmar Brewery Ltd. and Mandalay Brewery Ltd. -- with Myanmar Economic Holdings, identified by the United Nations as being owned by senior members of the military.

After concerns were raised about the partner's financial and governance structures, Kirin carried out a review and stopped dividend payments from the ventures. However, the partnership has yet to be dissolved as negotiations continue to face challenges.

In a separate case, over 200 million yen ($1.84 million) in ground rent was paid annually to Myanmar's Defense Ministry for a redevelopment project in Yangon by a Japanese consortium through a local joint venture.

The consortium involves the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corporation for Transport and Urban Development, Fujita and Tokyo Tatemono. With the ministry and military effectively unified, the funds for the project, which was financed by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, as well as Mizuho Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., could have been used for military activities.


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