米・ミャンマー 関係強化は中国へのけん制だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 22, 2012)
Japan, U.S. must join hands to aid Myanmar's reform drive
米・ミャンマー 関係強化は中国へのけん制だ(11月21日付・読売社説)

Recently reelected Barack Obama on Monday became the first serving U.S. president to visit Myanmar, a historic move in line with the U.S. strategy of attaching greater importance to Asia.

After meeting Myanmar President Thein Sein, Obama stressed the United States would support reform in the Southeast Asian nation, saying, "A process of democratic and economic reform here in Myanmar that has been begun by the president is one that can lead to incredible development opportunities."

Obama also met with Aung San Suu Kyi, president of Myanmar's largest opposition party, and applauded her efforts in leading the pro-democracy movement.

Myanmar was subject to tough economic sanctions imposed by Europe and the United States for many years while it suppressed human rights under the junta's rule.

But since the change to democratic rule in spring last year, the Myanmar government led by President Thein Sein has made steady efforts to promote democracy. Given this, the Obama administration has relaxed sanctions in phases since the start of this year. As a result, relations between the two countries have improved rapidly.


A bulwark against China

The United States went ahead with Obama's trip to take ties to a new level. The visit can also be regarded as a check against China, which has been expanding its military and economic presence. China cozied up to junta-ruled Myanmar, thereby boosting its influence over that country.

That Obama chose Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand as the first countries to visit after his reelection is significant.

By doing so, Obama sent a strong message that he will seek, in his second term too, to deepen cooperative relations with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in both economic and security fields.

China will certainly be stewing over the U.S. move. It seems inevitable that Washington and Beijing will intensify their tug-of-war over Myanmar.

The United States plans to provide Myanmar with about 13.7 billion yen over the next two years to assist its education and democratization programs. We hope the Thein Sein administration will use this U.S. support as a springboard to further promote reforms in various fields.


Crucial moment ahead

Myanmar will chair ASEAN in 2014. The country will face a crucial moment in its economic reconstruction as it seeks to shake off its status as the poorest nation in ASEAN. The road to further democratization likely will be bumpy. It will not be easy to reconcile with minority ethnic groups that still are at odds with the government.

Tokyo and Washington must work together to support democratization and economic reform in Myanmar. In October, Japan hosted a conference of industrialized nations and the World Bank in Tokyo, where arrangements for assistance to Myanmar were set.

In his meeting with Thein Sein in Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced his government plans to offer yen credits to the tune of 50 billion yen next year.

Myanmar can become a new production base for Japanese firms. The Japanese government, for its part, must expedite its assistance to expand that country's economic infrastructure.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 21, 2012)
(2012年11月21日01時50分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-11-23 04:45 | 英字新聞

<< Life is simple;... move forward >>