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Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007
Tokyo may cut Myanmar aid over reporter's slaying
The government may reduce official development assistance to Myanmar further in retaliation for the death of a Japanese video journalist gunned down during a demonstration for democracy last week, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said Wednesday.
Topping the list is a ¥552 million project to build a training center at a university in Yangon, where journalist Kenji Nagai was shot during the junta's violent crackdown on protesters, Komura said.
The two countries have been planning to exchange a formal written agreement on the training center in the near future. It is one of the few major ODA projects Japan has been considering for Myanmar.
"We have already limited our economic assistance to humanitarian projects, but we will screen them further," Komura said.
He quickly added, however, that humanitarian aid directly affecting the lives of people will not be canceled. This includes measures to treat and prevent polio.
Japan stopped providing fresh major ODA to Myanmar in 2003 when the junta arrested democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize.
But Tokyo has continued to provide "urgent and humanitarian" assistance, such as measures to fight poverty and financial aid to provide medical services to mothers and children.
Japan delivered grant aid to Myanmar worth ¥1.35 billion and technical assistance worth ¥1.73 billion in 2006.
"We will continue our engagement policy. That won't change," a senior Foreign Ministry official said.
Komura also said Tokyo will keep demanding that the Myanmarese government "find the truth" behind Nagai's slaying.
The junta claims Nagai was shot accidentally by a security force soldier, but video images taken nearby suggested he was shot intentionally at point-blank range.
Nagai's video camera, which he had kept trained on soldiers even after he was shot, was not among the items handed over to Japan by the Myanmarese government.
Tokyo will continue to demand that the junta hand the camera over, Komura said.
Body leaves Myanmar
BANGKOK (Kyodo) Slain Japanese video journalist Kenji Nagai's body was flown from Myanmar to Bangkok on Wednesday and is scheduled to arrive in Japan early Thursday, Japanese officials said.
APF News Inc. President Toru Yamaji will join officials in bringing the body home. Nagai, 50, who was fatally shot while covering clashes between security forces and antigovernment demonstrators in Yangon on Sept. 27, was on contract with the Tokyo-based video news provider.
After the body arrives at Narita airport, it will be taken to the Metropolitan Police Department for an autopsy.
Meanwhile, Myanmar's military authorities Wednesday released a local journalist working for the Tokyo Shimbun who was detained last week, according to the newspaper's Bangkok bureau.
Min Zaw, a Myanmar national working for the daily, was taken to a hospital after his release to undergo a health inspection, the bureau said.