Japan cancels grants for Myanmar project over shooting

Other News Materials 16 October 2007 08:23 (UTC +04:00)

( AFP ) - Japan has decided to cancel grants of up to 552 million yen (4.7 million dollars) to Myanmar over the shooting of a Japanese journalist, the foreign minister said Tuesday.

Japan has decided to cut its assistance in connection with the killing of Kenji Nagai, 50, in Myanmar last month, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said.

It is the first punitive action taken by Tokyo since Myanmar's junta launched its deadly crackdown on demonstrators, prompting Western-led calls for further sanctions on the military regime.

Japan, in a rare break with the United States and the European Union, has been one of the largest donors to Myanmar, although it says it only provides humanitarian aid to the country.

Japan's grants to Myanmar totalled 1.353 billion yen in the last fiscal year to March 2007.

Nagai, a video journalist for Tokyo-based APF News, was killed on September 27 in Yangon as he filmed the crackdown on protesters by Myanmar's junta after demonstrations led by Buddhist monks.

Television footage showed him apparently being shot at close range by security forces.

The cancelled grants had been intended to finance the construction of a human resources centre in Myanmar.

Japanese officials had earlier expressed caution about punishing Myanmar, fearing that the junta would not be hurt as it could still rely on economic support from China, its main ally.

Japan and China have often jostled for influence in Asia.

Japan in 2003 suspended low-interest loans for Myanmar's infrastructure projects to protest the continued detention of Nobel laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.