Senior Myanmar Officials Meet Defense Minister OnoderaJapan – Myanmar Military Officials Exchange Programme

The fourth group of 10 senior Myanmar military officials arrived in Japan on August 21 as part of The Nippon Foundation’s Japan – Myanmar Military Officials Exchange Programme, which is being carried out in cooperation with the Japanese Ministry of Defense. On the day they arrived, the group paid a courtesy call on Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and attended a welcoming reception at a Tokyo hotel. At the reception, delegation leader Lieutenant General Aye Win said, “This is the first time for all of us to visit Japan, and we look forward to learning and experiencing many things.”

Mr. Onodera, who was the first sitting defense minister to attend the program’s welcoming reception, referred to North Korea’s development of missiles equipped with nuclear warheads, commenting, “It is important for international society to take a stronger, unified stance. I look forward to working with the Myanmar government.” Regarding the memorandum of understanding being prepared to promote stronger defense ties between the two countries, he added, “I hope to be able to sign the memorandum myself.”

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Lieutenant General Aye Win (left) shakes hands with Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera (right)

Program launched in 2014

The program was launched in 2014 as Myanmar embarked on the path toward democracy, to familiarize Myanmar’s military with Japan’s self-defense policy, cultivate human resources, and introduce the concept of civilian control of the military. This year’s delegation comprised one lieutenant general, five major generals, and three brigadier generals and one commodore.

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The delegation with Defense Minister Onodera
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The Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa

At the welcoming reception, Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation and Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for National Reconciliation in Myanmar, expressed his optimism, noting, “Myanmar is the 21st century’s last frontier. I am confident the country will develop to become a leader in Asia.” In response, Lieutenant General Aye Win commented that before leaving, he had been told by Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s armed forces, “There is much to learn in Japan. Please study hard while you are there.” Lieutenant General Aye Win added, “Myanmar’s military will cooperate with the government without deviating from the path of democracy. To do that, we will need the support of the international community.”

Also speaking at the reception, Lieutenant General Takashi Motomatsu of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and the Joint Staff’s Vice Chief of Staff, noted, “These exchanges with Myanmar’s military are steadily producing results.” Hideo Watanabe, chairman of the Japan Myanmar Association, added, “Myanmar’s democratization is not a revolution, it was achieved by the military itself. We need to make this clear.”

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Lieutenant General Takashi Motomatsu
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Hideo Watanabe

Delegation to visit facilities in Hiroshima, Shizuoka, and Kanagawa

The delegation is scheduled to visit the Ground Self-Defense Forces’ garrison at Kaitaichi and the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Kure Naval Base, both in Hiroshima Prefecture, and the Air Self-Defense Force’s Hamamatsu Air Base in Shizuoka Prefecture. While in Shizuoka they will also observe the Fuji Firepower Exercise 2017 at the East Fuji Maneuver Area in Gotemba on August 27. The delegation will also visit the National Defense Academy in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, before returning to Myanmar on August 31.

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The Nippon Foundation

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