Burma Campaign UK today welcomed a commitment by Japan to stop selling arms and military equipment to the Burmese military.
In the statement by G7 Foreign Ministers on 5th May, Japan signed on to the following language:
“…we commit to continuing to prevent the supply, sale or transfer of all weapons, munitions, and other military-related equipment to Myanmar and the supply of technical cooperation.”
It is the first time we are aware of that Japan has made a public commitment not to sell or supply arms and military equipment to the Burmese military. In March 2021 the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, Tom Andrews, published a list of countries with arms embargoes. Japan was not included.
The G7 announcement came on the same day that more than 200 organisations released a joint statement calling on the UN Security Council to impose a global arms embargo.
Japan becomes the 43rd country to impose an arms embargo. 149 countries have still not imposed arms embargoes. Significantly, the two countries which have imposed new arms embargoes since the coup on February 1st, South Korea and Japan, are both Asian countries which have traditionally been unwilling to take action against the Burmese military.
The G7 Summit was hosted by the UK, and securing Japan’s public commitment to an arms embargo is a diplomatic success for the British government. Burma Campaign UK has been calling on the British government to build a global coalition of countries imposing arms embargoes, as a way of getting around Russia and China potentially vetoing an arms embargo resolution at the UN Security Council. More than 100 cross-party MP have also signed a Motion in the British Parliament calling on the British government to build an arms embargo coalition.
Japan has also been facing significant pressure from advocacy organisations in Japan and in the region regarding its weak response towards the military since the coup.
Burma Campaign UK is writing to the government of Japan seeking clarity on whether or not Japan is ending all training and cooperation with the Burmese military. The G7 statement only refers to technical cooperation.
The next big opportunity for persuading more countries to impose arms embargoes is the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in June. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has previously called on Commonwealth countries to impose arms embargoes.
“Japan’s decision to impose an arms embargo is very good news,” said Anna Roberts, Executive Director of Burma Campaign UK. “A country which has traditionally been close to the Burmese military taking this action has particular significance. Japan must now go one step further and end all military training and cooperation programmes.”