Editorial Notes

Don't allow junta to make military rule an established fact: Yomiuri Shimbun

The paper says Japan, the United States and Europe need to work together to support Asean in its efforts to press the military to change its behaviour.

Myanmar's junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing presides over an army parade in Naypyitaw on March 27, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (THE JAPAN NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A year and a half has passed since the Myanmar military overthrew a democratic government in a coup, but its violent rule still continues.

The current situation, in which China and Russia support the military, must not be left unaddressed. Myanmar's military and police force have killed more than 2,000 civilians and detained about 15,000 people so far.

Four people were executed at the end of July, including a pro-democracy activist. The military's commander-in-chief has made it clear that opposition forces will be considered terrorists and thoroughly crushed.

The military has been suppressing the pro-democracy movement because it is aiming for a landslide victory by a pro-military party in a general election to be held by August next year, thus paving the way to establish a "legitimate" government. This situation in which the military holds power under a state of emergency is an anomaly.

In April last year, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) called for the cessation of violence and for dialogue among all parties concerned. The Myanmar military accepted these calls, but it has never taken any action.

Asean barred Myanmar from attending its foreign ministers meeting in August. The bloc also said it will decide at its summit in November whether to take tougher action. Asean appears to have finally realised how serious the Myanmar situation is.

The ongoing events in Myanmar have shaken the fundamental principle of regional peace and stability that Asean aims to establish. The bloc should not cling to the principle of noninterference with each other's domestic issues. If the Myanmar military won't change its stance, Asean should take tougher measures such as imposing sanctions on that country or expelling it from the group.

The United Nations has also come under scrutiny over its role. A UN special envoy for Myanmar visited the country in August but failed to achieve any notable results because she could not meet with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Ironically, the envoy's visit was used by the military to claim that its rule was recognised by the United Nations.

More than 1.2 million people have been displaced in Myanmar as fighting between the military and pro-democracy forces has intensified. The United Nations must step up its calls to ensure that the military will accept humanitarian assistance to deliver necessary supplies to people in the country.

China and Russia are a relief valve for Myanmar amid international pressure on its military. The foreign ministers of those two countries visited Myanmar in July and August, respectively, and said that Beijing and Moscow will extend economic assistance. Russia has expressed its support for the military's rule and promised to expand arms exports.

For China and Russia, it would be undesirable for Asean to be united and move closer to Japan, the United States and Europe, which call for realising a free and open Indo-Pacific. The two countries apparently believe that discord within Asean over how to deal with Myanmar can benefit both of them.

If things go as they wish, the region will inevitably become unstable. Japan, the United States and Europe need to work together to support Asean in its efforts to press the military to change its behaviour.

  • The Japan News is a member of The Straits Times media partner, an alliance of 22 news media organisations.

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