Japan Eyes Increasing ODA to Myanmar

Japan is sending officials and experts to Myanmar for detailed discussion on the possibility of increasing official development assistance to the Southeast Asian country.

The Japanese government said the talks are part of efforts to encourage further democratization and reform in Myanmar, which has been under strict military rule until recently, the Financial Times reports.

Myanmar has also been subject to economic and aid sanctions, which some donors and rich countries have started relaxing following the military’s transfer of power to a civilian government in March 2011.

The Japanese delegation set to visit Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s capital, include two teams of experts who will review aid for a dam project that was suspended when opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was put under house arrest in 2003 and another project that was stopped in 2007 following a government crackdown on a protest involving Buddhist clergy.

The visit builds on the Japanese government’s decision to relax aid restrictions after Myanmar started releasing political prisoners, the Financial Times says. Unlike the United States and other developed countries, Japan resisted imposing sanctions on Myanmar and continued some of its aid programs even before the turnover of power and recent reforms were put in place, the news agency adds.

With the planned talks, Myanmar could expect to benefit from the 2 trillion yen ($26 billion) aid package announced by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The negotiations, however, are not likely to result in the resumption of Japanese loans to Myanmar due to an outstanding debt disagreement, the Financial Times says.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.