Suu Kyi calls for Japanese investment in Myanmar: Reports

TOKYO (AFP) - Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday called for Japanese investment and economic aid that would create jobs in the Southeast Asian economy, news reports said.

The 67-year-old head of the National League for Democracy, now on her first visit to Japan in 27 years following more than 14 years of house arrest, made the request during her meeting with Japanese lawmakers in Tokyo.

"The people cannot improve their livelihood without a job," Myanmar's pro-democracy icon told the lawmakers, according to Kyodo News.

She also requested Japan's government assistance in securing clean drinking water and irrigation water for farming, building roads, supplying electricity, and the enhancement of a medical and healthcare service.

Myanmar can put Japanese assistance into "effective" use, she was quoted by Kyodo as saying.

Suu Kyi, who met Crown Prince Naruhito on Tuesday, is scheduled to hold talks with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida late Tuesday and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday.

Her visit comes as Japan continues to court newly-liberalised Myanmar as a trading partner.

Unlike many industrialised countries, Japan maintained trade ties and generous aid for Myanmar while it was ruled by a military junta, warning that taking a hard line could push it closer to China.

Tokyo has also gently pressed the country's leaders to listen to the voices of those in opposition and the international community.

Since the end of military rule in 2011, Myanmar has made visible efforts to open up to the rest of the world and has lured international firms to start operations in the potentially lucrative market.

Japanese businesses in particular have been active in the country with strong backing from Tokyo, including the cancellation of 350 billion yen (S$4.4 billion) of debt and numerous aid grants.

On Wednesday, Suu Kyi is to address a speech at the University of Tokyo and hold a news conference in Tokyo before leaving the country on Friday.

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