Japanese Special Envoy Meets Ethnic Armed Groups In Chiang Mai

By Network Media Group
Monday, March 14, 2022

The Special Envoy of Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar met separately with several ethnic armed groups fighting the military in the Southeast Asian country for the first time since the coup a year ago.

Yōhei Sasakawa held talks in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai on 10 March with Karenni National Progressive Party leader Khu Oo Reh, the party’s second secretary Aung San Myint and Ko Nelneh Plo, head of the Karenni Emergency Rescue Team, mainly on humanitarian aid.

“We used to work with the Nippon Foundation, which provided humanitarian aid, and we talked about how to continue that. We didn’t talk about politics during the meeting,” Aung San Myint told NMG. However, no agreement was reached on how Japan can continue its aid to civilians or support the education sector as before.

Karen National Union (KNU) spokesperson Padoh Saw Taw Nee told the media that the meeting between Sasakawa and KNU leader Gen Saw Mutu Say Poe was about the peace town of Lay Kay Kaw, which was overrun by the Burma Army (BA) last December.

The Nippon Foundation provided financial support for the establishment of Lay Kay Kaw in 2015 to house returning refugees from Thailand and internally displaced persons along the border.

The special envoy also met with Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS) leader Gen Yawd Serk. NMG couldn’t reach the RCSS spokesperson for comment on their meeting.

Sasakawa and the Nippon Foundation supported negotiations between the BA and the Arakan Army to reach an informal ceasefire after the 2020 race, shortly before the military toppled the National League for Democracy government of Aung San Suu Kyi.