Current News

Myanmar’s Muslims not allowed to meet Aung San Suu Kyi in Japan

In this file photo, a Rohingya man living in Japan protests outside the Japanese Foreign Ministry in Tokyo on November 8, 2012. AFP Photo / Yoshikazu Tsuno

Japan Daily Press:
April 11, 2013

The Rohingya community in Japan claims that they have been barred from attending a gathering to welcome Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi when she visits Japan later this month. The minority Muslim group, described as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, make up around 200 of the 10,000 Burmese who live in Japan. This is Suu Kyi’s first visit to Japan in three decades, since she was a researcher in Kyoto University in 1985-86.

Zaw Min Htut is the leader of the Rohingyas in Japan and has been living in the country for decades. He was informed by the organizers that they will not be allowed at the events where Suu Kyi will be attending. He claims that it is probably because of the Buddhist minorities that they are barred from the events. Even in the small expatriate Myanmar community in Japan, the tension between the Muslims and Buddhists is palpable. The enmity between the two groups at home reached a fever pitch last year when violence erupted in Rakshine, leaving around 650 dead, 1,200 missing and 80,000, mostly Muslims, displaced. Just last month, 43 were killed in another spate of violence that destroyed mosques and Muslim homes in central Myanmar.

Suu Kyi has mostly been quiet about these recent happenings and some activists have expressed disappointment. Zaw Min Htut says he wanted to meet her, but not to start any quarrel. He met with several foreign ministry officials on Wednesday and handed over a letter to Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, asking Suu Kyo to take the lead in ensuring the end of inter-communal violence in their country. He believes that ethnic violence in Myanmar should be stopped in order for the country to really move on. An official from the foreign ministry said that the decision for participation in the events was out of their hands and was up to the organizers of the events.

Suu Kyi is expected to meet with the Burmese community in Japan on her six-day trip, as well as with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kishida. Aside from her time at Kyoto University, another connection that Suu Kyi has with Japan is her father, General Aung San, established a Japanese-backed government in 1942, after trying to gain independence from Britain.