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Japan Offers $100 Million in Aid for Burma

  • VOA News

In this photo taken Feb. 12, 2013, Yohei Sasakawa, center, Japan's Goodwill Ambassador for the Welfare of the National Races in Myanmar and Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, donates sacks of rice to locals in Hpa-an, Karen State, Burma.
Japan says it will provide nearly $100 million in additional aid for Burma, also known as Myanmar, to support the country's peace process.

At a press conference Monday in Rangoon, Japanese Ambassador Mikio Numata said Tokyo plans for the money to be used over the next five years to improve living standards in Burma's war-torn ethnic areas.

Nippon Foundation Chairman Yohei Sasakawa, who co-hosted the press conference, said he saw the need for help during a recent visit with people who've been displaced by decades of fighting.

"I saw the refugees and they told me they do not have proper food or medicine or shelter," Sasakawa said. "First of all, we will provide rice and beans and staple medicines."

In 2013, Japan cancelled more than $3 billion in foreign debt owed by Burma and provided a $500 million loan to clear Burma's arrears with international financial institutions.

After decades of military rule and fighting with ethnic rebel groups, Burma has begun a process of political reform and is negotiating ceasefires with former combatants.

(This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Burmese Service)